Unemployment affecting youth  in Small Island Developing States
August 30, 2013

Unemployment affecting youth in Small Island Developing States

ONE of the greatest challenges facing small island developing states (SIDS) is the lack of employment opportunities for young people.{{more}}

According to United Nations Under-Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan, every region in the world presently faces its highest rate of youth unemployment ever.

Grynspan told a news conference at United Nations House in Barbados on Tuesday, August 27, that the global youth unemployment statistics were “a deep worry”.

“If you look at the numbers, not only here in Barbados and in the Caribbean, if you look at the numbers, there is the highest rate of unemployment of youth that we have had ever in the world right now. This is sad, a deep worry because it will affect the development prospects of the countries,” she said.

She said estimates are that approximately 10 per cent to 40 per cent of Caribbean youths are unemployed across the region. Those figures were also expected to change and potentially increase, given the current impact of the global economic crisis.

Grynspan, a former vice president of Costa Rica, said that in Latin America, “25 per cent of young people are out of school and out of work”.

She said that in response to those figures, the United Nations Development Programme Barbados Office (developed its “Youth-IN Project, with outputs that tackle high levels of Caribbean youth unemployment”. The programme promotes entrepreneurship and enterprise among the region’s youth, through the Caribbean Innovative Challenge (CIC). A 2nd Edition of the CIC will be launched by November this year.

The UN envoy said there was “no magic bullet” to youth unemployment and it had to be approached from many angles. Some of these, she suggested, were maintaining youth in training, so they don’t lose their skills. She also suggested they be encouraged to form associations and networks, so they feel supported by their communities and are not left on their own.

Grynspan said it was crucial that young people have access to employment, even if it was only short-term, since it gave them the vital experience needed for longer term employment. She warned that the longer a person remained unemployed, the harder it became for that person to secure employment.

“We are working very strongly with the governments of Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States to bring programmes that will help the youth today with opportunities for entrepreneurship, for training, for temporary employment, so we could really prevent long-term unemployment,” she added.

Grynspan is in Barbados to attend the 3rd Preparatory Conference for the High level Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Summit to be held in Samoa in September 2014. The conference was held at the Barbados Hilton from August 26-28. (MSI).