Letter to the Editor: Caribbean Youth Day message

Youth unemployment has become this century’s biggest developmental challenge in almost
every country. With global unemployment figures for youth running two to three times
higher than those for adults, almost half of all jobless people are under the
age of thirty.

It is therefore only fitting that
the theme for this year’s Caribbean Youth Day is creating
sustainable employment for young people.

Some might say the challenges are
insurmountable. They include low economic growth, continuing job losses, the high
cost of tertiary education and a general reluctance to encourage or accept inexperienced
youngsters who are trying to enter the job market.

How then do we help our young
people to not only overcome these difficulties, but to also unlock their
potential so that they can mature and become tomorrow’s dynamic workforce?

Our approach is necessarily
interactive and cooperative: Together with other government agencies such as
the Department of Education Services and the Ministry of Education, our Youth
Services Unit is already working hard to place our young people on the pathway to
sustainable employment.

Annual summer camps help students
identify possible careers by testing aptitude and personality traits. There are
also opportunities to explore a range of fields including mechanics,
office administration, fashion design, creative media and culinary arts.

In addition the Youth Services Unit
works with youth to plot their further education plans by exploring tertiary
education institutions, course requirements and scholarship opportunities.
Staff also assist with creating and updating young people’s résumés, and maintain
an updated bulletin board of job opportunities for entry-level applicants and
other suitably qualified youngsters. 

The Ministry of Education, Training
& Employment has also been working on several initiatives aimed at
improving services, support, assistance and guidance to the youth of this
country. These include increased career guidance in school, providing students
with work experience through dedicated placement (which is part of the Further
Education Programme for Year 12) and preparing young people for the world of
work through the National Employment Passport Programme, Passport2Success.

But these commendable efforts
should not be left to stand alone.

Parents, teachers and friends should
all be part of the equation. From an early age, our children need to develop
solid values and we need to instill in them the value of a strong work ethic.
We should likewise offer career counseling, encouraging our youth to think outside
of the box when it comes to livelihood choices and strongly promoting creativity
and entrepreneurship.

I accordingly call on everyone to make
an investment in Cayman’s future and celebrate this Caribbean Youth Day by spending
time with a young person. I can assure you that it will be time well spent.

 

Mark Scotland, Minister of Youth

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