YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT AT THE CENTRE OF DISCUSSIONS

Roseau Central youth, among the age group of 18 to 40, are the most recent consultants in a series of meetings to tackle the issue of unemployment among that age group.

The meetings, organised by the Youth Development Division brought together employers, policy makers, youth and other stakeholders to discuss ways of combating the effects of unemployment.

Youth Training Instructor, Gregory Riviere, speaking at the start of the consultation on Wednesday, stated that, “It’s something everybody should be concerned about and I know that it is something that has been affecting young people the most.”

Mr. Riviere also believes that the problem of unemployment could lead to other social ills like poverty, drugs, teen pregnancy, prostitution, violence and crime.

He says, “A number of people may say well [we] got into drugs because [we were] unemployed.”

The workshop featured addresses by three guest speakers followed by a group discussion.  Alexander Stephenson of the Dominica Employment and Small Business Support Agency was the first speaker.  He highlighted apprenticeship programmes as one method used by the agency to combat youth unemployment.

These programmes running from two to six months, target the unemployed between the ages of 18 and 40.  According to Stephenson, Culinary Arts, is the first program and will begin from May 10th and will run for 8 weeks.

Mr. Stephenson also gave insight into current and upcoming vacancies in the job market. He highlighted areas such as Sports Administration and Professional Sports as new areas that should be looked into as income earners.

"We have to become more creative and start seeing those as careers,” he urged.

He also mentioned new opportunities in Farming; Farm Managers, Researchers; Soil Scientists, Tissue Culture Technicians, Bio-Chemists, Agricultural Economists and Green House Operations.  Also in the creative industry he pointed out the prospects for employment in the Music Industry, Film, Television, Journalism, Anchors, Graphic Designers, Musicians, and Songwriters.

Job Development Officer, Mathilda Popo dealt with the subject of securing the interview and staying employed.

Also part of the consultation was a report from Instructor/ Trainer, Bernard Bontiff, on the achievements of the Youth Division’s flagship series, the Skills Training Programme.

The Skills Training Programme was initiated by the Organisation of American States and U.S/AID in a number of OECS countries.

According to Bontiff, the programme is one of the greatest contributions to local youth employment.

“I’m very happy to say that many of these STP‘s in the other OECS islands have phased out.  Dominica is 31 years into it and we are not giving it up because it has done marvellous works for us. We have seen young people grow.  In almost every community in this country somebody has to remind me that they did one of our programs.”

According to Bontiff’s report, the skills training programme has made about ten thousand youth more ready for the job market.