[SKN] Specific challenges of giving youth the right training and tools for the labour market were examined in a Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) study presented today at a seminar at the 45th Annual General Meeting of the CDB’s Board of Governors in St Kitts and Nevis, May 20-21.
The report, entitled “Youth are the Future, the Imperative of Youth Employment for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean,” notes that while TVET was generally widespread in the region and received attention at the level of CARICOM, with the governing body being the CXC, it was seen at times as a last resort in terms of obtaining qualifications by those who were not ‘academically minded’.
The implementation of technical and vocational training and entrepreneurship that is currently provided after leaving secondary school should be integrated within the curriculum, with links to private enterprises, and students guided to certain areas by career education.
Such an approach would ensure that young people leaving secondary school would have an understanding of the needs and expectations of the labour market, as well as some marketable skills,” the report said.
Additionally, there is a disconnect from ‘industry’, where the link between the education system and the needs of the labour market is the National Training Agency (NTA), rather than an integrated relationship between the two, as seen in countries that operate dual-track apprenticeship schemes with both academic and on-the-job training.
The study finds that despite the existence of several core components for addressing youth unemployment across the Region, the overall system is fragmented and disjointed. While there is recognition of the linkages between youth and youth-at-risk issues and unemployment, youth have become the remit of ministries concerned solely with social issues or those related to sports and culture, and sometimes education.
However, there are a few examples of holistic approaches to addressing youth unemployment in the Region. One example is seen in the Cayman Islands. There, the government funded National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA), which was noted as being heavily utilised, provides a number of services. While the agency’s remit is not specifically directed at youth unemployment, it was found to have a direct impact through its activities.
The study calls for transformative shifts in the education system especially in technical and vocational training within secondary schools and at post-secondary institutions, as well as an expansion in entrepreneurship training.
It proposes an 11-point action agenda with specific recommendations at the international, regional and national levels. In specifically addressing the issue of youth unemployment, and seeking to facilitate their entry into employment, four specific groups of unemployed youth were identified: school-leavers; the chronic unemployed; the transient unemployed; and those not in employment, education or training. The differential needs of these groups in attaining employment were also highlighted.
To address these needs, a number of multi-stakeholder actions are recommended, including the involvement of trade unions, educational institutions, NGOs, the church, community departments and practitioners, the police, and the private sector, in addition to central government, and regional and international institutions.