By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
PROSPECTIVE high school graduates not pursuing tertiary education or training will have great difficulty finding work, an executive of the Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) said yesterday.
Delano Munroe, YEP president and CEO, spoke to The Tribune about the likelihood that the youth unemployment rate would be higher within the next 12 months given the country’s current economic climate.
“I don’t think there will be significant available employment opportunities for 2016 high school graduates...not with the present economic climate,” Mr Munroe predicted.
“Things are looking bleak and there doesn’t appear to be many solutions on the horizon but our job at YEP is to inspire hope for these students and provide what opportunities we can for as many as we can whether it be workshops addressing networking, skill sets required for the job or just facilitating engagements between students and universities willing to give aid to students looking to develop their academic or technical abilities.”
The lay offs of more than 2,000 Baha Mar employees last October contributed to a 2.8 per cent increase in the country’s unemployment rate pushing the national figure to 14.8 per cent, officials from the Department of Statistics said in December.
According to the latest Labour Force Survey, both New Providence and Grand Bahama experienced increases in their unemployment rates, pushing the figures to 15.9 per cent and 14.2 per cent respectively.
The youth unemployment rate was pegged at 30 per cent in November 2015, nearly five per cent more than the 25.3 per cent recorded in the May 2015 survey. The survey noted that young people between the ages of 15 to 24 continue to face a considerably higher rate of unemployment than any other group.
On March 8, hundreds of job seekers lined up outside Club Luna on West Bay Street, some as early as 3am, to apply for vacant jobs at a Pearl Island job fair. At the time, a Pearl Island official said the development only had 75 positions and that a number of them had already been filled.
“These are some of the things that we covered in our workshops at the Student Summit on Saturday at the S C McPherson Junior High School - skill sets, networking, chasing your dream, and most importantly having an education,” Mr Munroe said.
“We’re trying to expose these young people to the various opportunities for them on the ground and/or abroad and helping them to realise their potential. Regardless of whether employment opportunities are likely to be unavailable, these students should be preparing themselves with the necessary skills, training and most importantly education now so when things change around they will be employable. And where necessary, they should gain some experience, so that when things change around they are marketable and adaptable.”
The programme is now set to travel to the Canadian cities of Toronto and London for its fourth annual College Road Trio with a delegation of 33 students and seven chaperones.
“It is one of the initiatives to assist in preparing our Bahamian youth for a changing world and to expose YEP students to colleges and universities abroad, allowing them the opportunity to see firsthand what campus life and life, generally, is like overseas. Technical and vocational colleges will be visited and scholarship opportunities will also be available for these students in particular with Fanshawe College in London, Ontario,” Mr Munroe added.
Students who enroll in YEP are eligible to apply under the organisation’s name for scholarships from various institutions with which YEP has partnered.