Understanding that T&T is very much part of the global problem of youth employment, the Ministry of Sports and Youth affairs yesterday introduced an initiative to combat the issue.
The Sports Ministry launched the T&T Chapter of the Global Coalition for Youth Employment (GYCE) and the Schools Enterprise Challenge (SEC), to address the challenges young people encounter and to provide solutions to promote youth employment.
“This issue of youth unemployment is not a recent phenomenon; and has been a major concern for many decades,” said Minister of Sports Shamfa Cudjoe at the function held at Signature Hall in Longdenville, Chaguanas.
“As society advances, our schools have not been keeping the pace. As a result, many students are not graduating the doers, makers and cutting-edge thinkers that the world needs.”
Youth development has been one of the main driving force of Cudjoe and she feels that this coalition with GCYE will help the nation’s youth avoid the frustrations of unemployment and underemployment.
The GCYE is a consortium of individuals, non-governmental organisations and institutions based in London, England with experience in providing youth with the requisite skills, knowledge and abilities that empower young people to find, create and establish decent livelihoods for themselves.
Cudjoe said, “We need to inspire young people to create the companies that will provide long-lasting employment for our nation’s citizens. Our students need to graduate ready to make a meaningful contribution to our economy.”
It is not a venture that the Sports Ministry has taken up on its own, linking with the Education Ministry.
"The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs are working assiduously with the Ministry of Education to improve our systems quickly whilst equipping our children with the skills they need for the future.”
Meanwhile, the SEC, which is global business start-up awards programme ran by the international educational charity “Teach A Man To Fish”, will allow students, with the support of their teachers, to develop businesses which will generate additional income for their school or for a social cause.
Other initiatives to be executed under this programme include life skills training, entrepreneurship training and enterprise development. This is why Minister Cudjoe is pushing for students to become critical thinkers, to help them invent their own careers.
“Entrepreneurship education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds because it promotes thinking outside the box and it nurtures unconventional talents and skills. Furthermore, it creates opportunity, ensures social justice, instils confidence and stimulates the economy,” she said.
“I believe that entrepreneurship could go a long way in addressing some of the problems faced by our at-risk youth. By nature they are already risk takers, they feel like they have nothing to lose, they are courageous, and persistent, all vital traits of a good entrepreneur.
The GCYE initiative will be done on a phased basis. The first phase is the engagement of schools across the country, to participate in the Challenge which Cudjoe’s ministry believes will develop a culture of entrepreneurship among students.
Cudjoe also touched on last year’s introduction of the Life Skills Programme which she said equipped some 200 young people with the necessary skills to prepare for the world of work and shared that the ministry will present another initiative, starting today.
“The success of that programme has driven us to now roll-out the Life Skills, Employability, Entrepreneurship, Activism and Patriotism (LEEAP) initiative which encapsulates a number of topic areas that are necessary for young people to develop their skills and abilities.
“This programme will expose persons between the ages of 16 and 24 to training that will enable them to better approach life’s challenges, embrace the many available opportunities and make a positive contribution to society,” said the Minister, who also advised that the government will again revise the national youth policy.
“We are currently collating information pertinent to all national youth organisations and youth activists across the nation, with the intention of creating a portal that highlights all the programmes and projects we plan to undertake within this fiscal year.”
Cudjoe gave special thanks to David Woollcombe of Peace Child
International, who made it possible for T&T to be part of this initiative, Orville London, the High Commissioner to London and the Tobago House of Assembly.