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$20m Loan To Help Young Unemployed Find Work

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

IN a bid to reduce unemployment among people between the ages of 16 and 40, the government signed a $20m loan with the Inter-American Development Bank yesterday.

The flagship component of the programme is the creation of new apprenticeship opportunities for Bahamians. 

The existing National Training Agency pre-apprenticeship programme will be expanded to include 1,100 additional people. A new advanced apprenticeship programme will be created to help 1,350 people as well. The training programmes will operate through the NTA and the Bahamas Technical & Vocational Institute.

The apprenticeship programmes will concern three areas: information technology, maritime/shipping and medical services.

Apprentices will be given a stipend, although details of this and other key elements of the programme have not yet been determined.

Through the loan, a 43,000 sq ft building will be constructed to serve “as a one stop shop to address all matters for job seekers,” Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said.

That building will be outfitted with childcare services or a nursery “to accommodate women who are seeking the services from various support windows in the facility,” he said.

According to IDB country representative Michael Nelson, anyone between 16 and 40 will be eligible for the programme though the focus is on “school leavers and unemployed persons”.

There are no “technical requirements” or minimum education requirements for the programme, he said.

With the unemployment rate of people in the targeted age group high, Mr Turnquest acknowledged demand could be great. The selection process for participants has not yet been finalised. 

“I’m sure there will be an evaluation process because we want to make sure participants in this programme are successful,” Mr Turnquest said.

“If you have no interest in doing maritime work or technical work, there is no point in applying so there will be some screening process that I imagine will be (worked into) the programme. That would be the first sort of screening if you will. It will be a fair (selection) process I’m sure and it will be open to all Bahamians. This fits very nicely with what the government is trying to do with respect to BTVI by the way which will be operating a programme on its own that will work very nicely with what we are doing here. The good news is there will be a significant number of training opportunities available for Bahamians through this programme, through BTVI or through the University of the Bahamas as well as all the private institutions we have in the country.”

The loan will also help the government develop blockchain technology, Mr Turnquest said, announcing that in early September the Ministry of Finance will host its first meeting of a national blockchain strategy committee “to guide selection and implementation of blockchain initiatives in public and private sectors.”

Over the years, the government has made a number of attempts at reducing unemployment through apprenticeship programmes.

Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said the new loan differs from the IDB’s Citizen Security Programme, which also had a labour component, one that focused on unemployment among at-risk youth.

“We have a shortage of trained Bahamians with specific skills,” he said. “I see it every day in applications for labour certificates where on our register persons are not there to meet the demand for the marketplace. What this programme is going to do, we’re going to train Bahamian men and women in the skills that are currently demanded. Our curriculum in most of our institutions are outdated going back to the 70s and the 80s. This programme is a modern skills and apprenticeship programme and we are going to target certain areas, especially ICT skills, some hard skills also and the idea is as the economy grows we want Bahamians to take advance of the opportunities here. We still approve too many labour certificates and too many work permits to non-Bahamians.”

The payment period for the loan is 25 years at an interest rate of 3.6 percent.

In January, the Department of Statistics revealed the unemployment rate stood at 10.1 percent, up slightly from 9.9 percent. At the time, it was also reported that youth unemployment (for those ages 15-24) increased from 20.1 percent in May 2017 to 22 percent last November.

A new Labour Force Survey is expected to be released today.

Comments

TheMadHatter 6 months, 3 weeks ago

This is DISGUSTING. This comes on the heels of the VAT increase which was supposed to help pay down debt.

Funds for this VERY GOOD IDEA could have been procured from companies in these fields by:

A) Reducing their NIB payments by 50%; B) Asking for loans from companies in these fields and raising the work permit fees by ten-fold in those areas, but offering 90% off to companies who "donate";

And...

C) Shaming the churches into donating to the education of the children that their STUPID policies have created; D) Remove the duty free status of baby food and diapers; E) increaase the duty on soft drinks imported and the syrups and other ingredients used by local soda makers by 10 percentage points. Eg. 20% up to 30%. F) Triple the duty on all candies and candy bars and other "sweets" except for pure chocolate (without nuts or caramel or anything) because chocolate is actually a health food.

Let's pay for our own damned training of our own people!!!! I would not be at all surprised if the quick removal of us from the blacklist a few months ago was contingent on us "accepting" this loan. The IDB is a mafia type agency that knows full well how to cripple a country with debt.

I was very very pleased with KP and the new 12% VAT to bring true independence to our country, but this move has reduced my faith.

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Alex_Charles 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Short term solution to a long term problem. Can't fault them for trying but the fact still remain, we suck at governing as a country.

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Alex - no. We won't get $20m benefit from this. Also nobody cares about anything they don't have to pay for. When the companies eventually hire these people to "smile up" with government - they will only make the employee's life a living hell so they quit. Then they can say "We didn't fire them, they quit."

Is the govt a bunch of school children just learning these lessons for the first time?

As i've said before, i was so pleased to see this govt making bold moves to bring down debt. They should not add to it. This is nothing more than a building contract to make an employment "hub". We got enough empty buildings in Nassau now.

Besides that - where is the long talked about national employment database? If you go to Dept of Labour in Eleuthera and say you are a plumber, they can only tell you about Eleuthera. If they looking for plumbers in Bimini - too bad for you. They don't know about it.

I offered to write the internet connected software for the govt for a measly $50g to solve that problem - but no such luck for me. I'm just a Bahamian, not an IDB leach.

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ohdrap4 6 months, 3 weeks ago

"We didn't fire them, they quit."

which is the excuse companies use about those understudy for the certificate of vacancy work permit thing. evry year the bahamian trained is a different one,

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Everybody know these funds (tens of millions of dollars) are going straight to FNM croanies.This, plus the FNM urban renewal project are pork projects taken straight out of the PLP playbook or, in other words, stealing our money!!!! Minis is starting to really piss me off!!!! No fiscal responsibility bill before the recess as promissed, no freedom of information act, no investigation of BOB, no investgation of carnival, VAT raised to 12% without public consultation, no cannabis law reform, crime as bad as ever, pushing to join the nonsensical WTO... The list is starting to get long.

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DDK 6 months, 3 weeks ago

In total agreement BahamaPundit! This is so disappointing, disheartening and just plain bloody sickening.

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hrysippus 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Hey Bananacumdip, "Everybody know these funds (tens of millions of dollars) are going straight to FNM croanies. I don't know this. Which FNM croanies (sic) please give us a list?, or are you just posting lies again?

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The government using own money to finance a huge building for the project aka pork spending money we don't have. You can be sure an FNM croany will get the contract. Unnecessary, grandiose construction = theft in my books.

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bcitizen 6 months, 3 weeks ago

More government spending/programs after VAT increase. VAT 20% here we come. Government cannot help themselves.

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DDK 6 months, 3 weeks ago

How DARE they? This is NONSENSE! Our Government Ministers, from the PM down, would feign indignant outrage if called a lying bunch of crooks!

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hj 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The IDB is more than happy to finance programs and projects they know fully well will not work.After all they will get paid back with interest. At the same time our politicians will borrow more and more just to show they care for the people. The real loser of course is the Bahamian citizen who will pay the bill.

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birdiestrachan 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Turnquest is duplicating what is all ready in place. But the FNM Government must hope to be seen as doing something .They have taxed the poor and middle class beyond endurance. So Turnquest just muddle on its the people time.

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John 6 months, 3 weeks ago

It is ok to spend money to train people to become employable. But you must also ensure jobs exist else the exercise will be a useless waste of time and scares funds. And with the high incidence of unemployment among this selected group, any effort to bring down the unemployment numbers is a great effore. And remember when employment increases in this group especially, crime decreases. Support the effort.

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JohnDoes 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Just what we need. Another large loan on a massive piece of land & infrastructure to serve no purpose other than to provide jobs for the security officers to watch it day & night. The NTA alone is big enough to do all of this, and yet the building sits there 'CLOSED' most if not all of the time. There are so many other dire infrastructural needs in this country to invest $20 million into. For example, what happened to the Post Office that desperately needs top notch renovation & reforming so that persons & businesses can actually receive and send their various mail in a timely fashion? No wonder the Freight Forwarders are now self made millionaires & no wonder Leslie Miller implemented a blockade on Brokerage Licenses when he had the chance. What about the old Road Traffic building, that is sitting there as if its an historical Ruin? PLP started & now the FNM is continuing to waste the office spaces of the National Stadium that was said to serve as a 'temporary' location for the Road Traffic department that now seems to be a permanent location. You cancel the IAAF races which is probably the only large international sporting event that our stadium can appropriately cater to on behalf of becoming another large waste of land, infrastructure & soon to be dilapidation. What happened to the whole down town and the former Govt building across from parliament that the press couldn't wait to catch Fred Mitchell or Allyson Maynard scurrying out of that is sitting there in a phases of deterioration, a serious eye sore for tourists coming off the Cruise ships. The persons in government have no vision for the country as a whole, & yall worrying about setting up 'block chain' and getting involved 'crypto currency'? Yall cant even get yall own country straight yet yall worrying about any 'blockchain'. Time & time again we see that both governments concern themselves unrealistic, self proclaimed, grandiose & wasteful visions that serves no real purpose to the country because they cant even get the simplest of things sorted out. This country can be so much better & powerful especially because of the hundreds-thousands of square miles of islands & ocean we occupy, Unfortunately the people are too selfish & eye-too-big to ever get us anywhere.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm a big proponent of training. So if we're going to spend money, I dont think there's any better way to spend it than by investing in people. Where the new building comes in I dont know, didn't they just upgrade an entire building fir the NTA? Gadbille McDonald was raving about how amazing it was. If this program is a technical initiative, why not use any infrastructure money to improve the BTVI campus where the students will most likely take their courses? Also 242jobs just spoke about their platform. Between BTVI, Dept of Labour and an online platform, you can supply all your needs. I'd have to go on the side of it looking like slush money

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hrysippus 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The problem with this government imitative is that if you are a job seeker who is over 40 years old then you might as well give up now. The government is spending millions of our dollars to help people who are not you get that job that you wanted. You don't stand a chance now you over 40 job seekers because no one is gonna spend millions of dollars helping you. Your life just got a whole lot harder, thanks government.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 3 weeks ago

That's what's so wrong headed about their approach "in general" You have an unemployment problem at both ends of the scale, the young people who aren't given a chance due to lacking education or experience AND the older people who are cast to the side because they're more expensive to carry on the payroll.

Government is not supposed to carve out a segment of the population they want to help. Their programs are supposed to be wide and broadbased. Let private business pick and chose people. Governments responsibility is to ALL its citizens. If they continue with their we only helping 18-35's, no one over 35 should vote for them again

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Let's not forget: The IDB loan is for 20 million, but the Government is taking another 30 million from the treasury (our VAT money) to build a building we don't need. If you want to catch a Bahamian political party in the act of red-handed stealing, look no further than construction. LETS FACE IT BAHAMAS!!!!! WE VOTED IN ANOTHER THIIEVING MAJORITY RULE PARTY!!!!! May God have mercy on us all. Another 50 million dollars in the pockets of cronies!!!!! 30 million taken out of VAT that should be going to pay off our debt!!!!!

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 3 weeks ago

There's no surprise here, when they appointed the person who signs off on all the contracts a blind man could see they didn't want anyone with an ethical bone asking any questions.

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The_Oracle 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Insanity, plain and simple. The IMF is laughing at us, feeding us more loans and our own demise, and we lap it up. No wonder real money is exiting the Bahamas. Bahamian money, not foreign.

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I have written quite a number of you by clicking on your name and clicking contact...then sending you a message. Nobody has replied. There is something we can do besides talk. Get in touch please...time for action. You can remain anonymous.

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DDK 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Have not heard from you Oh Mad One! Is there a particular box that must be checked in the e-mail preference list? Time for action is right!

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Lol @"oh mad one". Where would you get that message?

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DWW 6 months, 3 weeks ago

This is a construction loan. Plain & simple.

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Re TheMadHatter I don't think there's anything we can do about it until an election. As the FNM starts to enjoy sucking up the new VAT funds, the stealing will get worse. I am not hopeful about Minnis. His lack of transparency and lack of innovative creativity are blatant flaws in his character that cannot be rectified. He pretended to be a new kind of politician like the DNA but turned out to be just another PLP type leader. I anticipate this Government to be basically the same as the last government. All the country's golden opportunities will be directed to benefit FNM cronies. The Aliv shares will go to cronies. The VAT reductions will go to cronies. The cannabis legalization will go to cronies. After reading about this silly project that will cost us 50 million, There's no doubt in my mind that Minnis is another "all for me baby" "friends, family and lovers" politician that will talk to us like we're 2 years olds. I will be greatly surprised if we ever get a freedom of information act.

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DDK 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Thing is WHO is there to elect that actually cares about the Bahamas and does not just put on a show of caring until elected? Once elected all they do is spend. They pretended that they knew the spending was unsustainable and taxed more, they said, to bring down the debt, only to spend it AND borrow more before the first month with the new VAT rate passed. IT IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. All Minnis is talking about is the next five years. Time for The Real People's Party to hit the spot light.

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Re DDK You're right. No country of this size in austerity and junk bond status should be spending 30 million dollars on a building period. Especially if they have plenty of empty buildings. It's against common sense. Also the reaons for building it are piss poor. This is the same reasoning used for Bamasi. They built a huge building in a field to teach people to farm. Real farmers don't require a beautiful building to farm, they just farm. Real workers don't require a new building to find a job, they just work. After this PLP move, I highly doubt any of our VAT money will be going to reduce the debt.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 3 weeks ago

In the run up to the last general election I told all of you posting here to THINK, THINK, THINK before casting your vote for an FNM government led by Minnis. At least many of you now believe the dimwitted Doc will likely go down in history as the worst PM the Bahamas has ever had or will ever have. And to think you thought no one could ever possibly be worse than Pindling, Ingraham, Christie or 'No Seat' McCartney!

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DDK 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes Mudda, but you do realize that for many it was a question of the lesser of two evils. Goodness knows what we will do in 2022, if we last that long.

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Giordano 6 months, 3 weeks ago

All known leaders,in The Bahamas, who had the opportunity to serve,nearly without exception, are currently shining for their big time,lack of vission to lead. Just like the absent of intangible,human values of good attitude,responsibility,relationship,transparency,liability,dignity and respect as well as decency and good desires of collaborative efforts to be on the right side of history and put a resonant STOP to the wrongdoing,impunity or misleading and great time confusions into so many victims (voters) once again and again....And again. Crooks.! Betrayers. This is very shameful. Where are the men with the uniform ? Who can put an Stop to this disaster ?. Oh my God !. Pls help us.

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DDK 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The only ones who can put a stop to this on-going disaster are The People, those who are not part of the corruption and the 'all for me' mind-set. Time for a revolution! What ever happened to We March Bahamas? The leader marched himself right into the Senate lol!

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The thing is doing the right thing is so obvious. The right thing: Beef up police patrols in bad neighborhoods. Bring into force Freedom of Information Act. Bring into force Fiscal Responsibility Act. Bring into foce term limits and campaign transparency act. Investigate BOB publically and expose all politicians involved. Bring into force Cannabis legalization laws following the open Jamaican model. Sell Aliv shares to the public, so everyone has a chance to buy shares. Post monthly the proceeds received from VAT and how they are reducing the debt...

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Because the right thing is so obvious, and Minnis confirmed that he knows what the right thing to do is when he was campaigning, one must conclude that the longer Minnis delays doing the right thing, it means that he DOES NOT WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING and is just as evil, corrupt and unpatriotic, as those politicians he replaced by campaigning on change and doing the right thing.

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