An increasing number of Barbadian youth have a “burning desire” to be entrepreneurs and to live the Barbadian dream.
And, Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment, Adrian Forde, said Government intends to “walk alongside youth” to help them achieve their goals.
He was speaking at the closing ceremony for Creativity for Employment and Business Opportunity (CEBO), an initiative organized by the CARICOM Secretariat, which provides training to unemployed or “at-risk” youth in seven regional countries.
After one week of intensive training, 52 persons received CEBO certificates of completion. Thirty young people participated in a business lab workshop, while 15 others, along with seven ministry officials, benefited from a train-the-trainers’ session.
CEBO, which was funded by the European Union, was a collaborative effort among the CARICOM Secretariat, CARIFORUM and Barbados’ Ministry of Youth.
Minister Forde told the audience that youth unemployment on the island for persons between the ages of 16 and 20 stood at approximately 70 per cent. But he noted: “Fifty per cent of that number, which is about 1200 to 1300 persons, every year say they have a burning desire to be entrepreneurs, have their own business and to have a tangible stake in living the Barbadian dream…. As a Government, we can’t walk in front of our young people because you may not follow. We cannot walk behind you because unfortunately you may not be at the stage where you can lead, but if we walk at your side, in a journey together, you can achieve that Barbadian dream.”
The Youth Minister stressed that investment in these types of initiatives were necessary as such training helped the youth to become more employable, certified, and gave them the skills to start a business, which could eventually employ others.
In addition to technical skills, practical life skills were taught with the aim of helping the young participants to contribute to their families and communities.
Also speaking at CEBO’s closing ceremony was Director of Human Development of the Caribbean Community Secretariat, Helen Royer. She said business development was identified as a key priority in responding to youth unemployment and a strategy used in reducing the negative effects of crime and violence.
“CEBO is a life-changing opportunity for youth, especially those who are disadvantaged or had missed opportunities,” she said Ms. Royer emphasized that the youth were integral to regional development, and encouraged them to be resilient and innovative in face of adversity.