The following statement was issued by The University of the West Indies Youth Development Programme (UWI-YDP) in recognition of International Youth Day, celebrated on 12 August.
The University of the West Indies Youth Development Programme (UWI-YDP) wishes all the youth of our Caribbean community a very conscious International Youth Day, this August 12th day of acknowledgement.
While many of our youth are fully engaged in pursuing their education and career goals, the shadow of youth unemployment is becoming a global epidemic. Our Caribbean is not exempt from this global trend. In the Caribbean, joblessness endures as a major challenge, according to the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2017, the unemployment rate is expected to rise to 8.4 % across the region and spikes to 17% in several of these countries. Youth unemployment is twice that.
The effects of youth unemployment are multidimensional and interfere with all aspects of our society, particularly its impact on youth violence. The relationship between youth unemployment and youth violence is only too well known and the corresponding rise in youth violence is as unsurprising as it is disturbing.
There are numerous contributing factors to youth unemployment in the Caribbean, many of which have been stated in one forum or another, yet there is more, much more, we can do in response to this challenge. This is not a message of hopelessness, but rather of hope, and a call to action.
Addressing youth unemployment first requires the acceptance by all stakeholders, of the fact that youth unemployment is everyone’s business. Secondly, it demands the formulation of a coalition of relevant parties and the mounting of an ambitious commitment to developing and implementing a medium and long-term plan aimed at reversing the current youth unemployment trajectory. A key priority of a youth unemployment strategy must be the promotion entrepreneurship and innovation thereby driving job creation and industry.
Undertaking the proposal in this message requires a prioritization of this issue. It will include the political will of governments and call upon the social responsibility of the private sector. It must also be understood that addressing this issue is not a kindness to one part of our population, but the conscious effort to define the future of our Caribbean. We must not allow despair to promote crime and violence, unhealthy sexual practices and social apathy.
The UWI-YDP affirms its commitment to supporting the youth of the region by working with the governments of the Caribbean and the regional private sector in this endeavour. It is imperative that we contemplate our next decisions and what they will mean for our society during our lifetime and beyond. Will we continue to suffer from these same issues a decade from now? Or will we be able to look back with pride at the leadership of our decision makers and the cooperative spirit and dedication to progress by our civil society? Let us embrace the idea of the prosperous Caribbean we want.
We must embrace a Caribbean that is beyond these challenges and decided to shape a productive and growing Caribbean which embraces entrepreneurship and innovation. We must embrace a Caribbean expressed by cooperation, informed decision making, and strategic planning for the future.
The UWI-YDP looks forward to offering a supporting system to our governments and civil society stakeholders and encourages a moment of reflection and solidarity on this day, as we consciously shape the prosperous Caribbean we want.
The UWI-Youth Development Programme
The UWI-Youth Development Programme (UWI-YDP) focuses on providing a proponent of youth development initiatives to address the development challenges of the region’s youth through the implementation of key interventions targeting persons between the ages of 15-35. The UWI-YDP operates in the 17 territories served by The UWI and represents the University’s commitment to impact the global youth development agenda.
About The UWI
Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by Caricom and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website: www.uwi.edu
(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)