BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THE absence of certified skills training among young people is the driving force behind the growth in youth unemployment in the Caribbean.
That was the view expressed by the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine.
Speaking at a forum in Bridgetown recently, the Governor explained that he has seen too much emphasis placed on the number of subjects being attained at the CXC and CAPE levels by students rather than in skills development.
He expressed concern over this widespread perception.
“I am deeply concerned with our obsession about subjects rather than skills. I find it difficult to accept that we could go on and on for bragging rights about who gets the most subjects in our schools and not how we are connecting with the labour market,” Antoine lamented.
He continued: “What these students are going to do – bright as they are – when they finish school? Because, what I see before me is rising unemployment, especially amongst our youth.”
The Governor noted that in many countries around the region, the unemployment rate has doubled the national average, a concerned he noted could be addressed through skills.
“…you can go into some countries and still can’t find plumbers, you still can’t find masons. The really good ones are in high demand…”
Antoine suggest that the region is not developing the most in-demand skills among youths, especially in the area of Coding.
“…you look at the average spend on education, we are above the average in developed countries. But the issue is where we are channeling those resources; the quality of the expenditure and therefore I would argue that we need to focus now on what it is that we are going to do.”
He points out that the region has the opportunity to“make a quantum leap” in development.
He however opined that would only be achieved through a change in the mindset when it comes to skills development.
“We would have to change the dynamics with respects to skills, and it starts with a conversation. You can’t leave skills development to education and educators…You have to have an interdisciplinary approach where you bring others to the table,” the Governor said.