Unemployment among Grenadian youth is once again taking center stage as the National Democratic Congress (NDC) registers its concern over the unemployment situation facing the nation’s youth.
The month of June marked the end of the 2015-2016 school year and NDC Political Leader, Senator Nazim Burke, expressed the view that the Keith Mitchell-led government has no plans in place to provide employment opportunities for the hundreds who have graduated and now seeking employment.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference in St. George’s Monday, Burke said that between June and September the country would have had about 3000 students graduating and “there are no opportunities for them”.
“…The question is, what is the plan that the government has in place for these young persons? The government has not set forth any plan for dealing with the employment situation for these young persons”, he remarked.
According to Sen. Burke, 2000 persons “is a significant addition to the work force in a country that has just about 57,000 people in the entire work force”.
He said the ruling New National Party (NNP) government has a responsibility “to provide long term sustainable employment opportunities to the young people (and) to create the environment that would provide for sustainable jobs”.
The Congress leader acknowledged that while it is accepted that the “government cannot provide work for everybody, they should create the environment that would allow businesses and others to want to come to Grenada to invest in areas that the young people would find jobs”.
Sen. Burke pointed out that while his party has nothing against the Imani programme it sees it as nothing but “a stipend that is provided to young people who have no jobs”.
Sen. Burke recalled the admittance made by the Mitchell-led government that the unemployment situation in the country is around 30%, with unemployment among young people averaging over 50%.
He said this is of “special concern” to Congress as it (unemployment in the country) is leading quite evidently to frustration among the young people.
“We are seeing increasing signs of hopelessness among the young persons; we are seeing signs manifesting themselves in the form of increased violence, crime, incidents of gambling and even in some cases reports of young women (being) forced into situations where they might have to compromise their relationships with men in order to realise their needs”, he added.
Sen. Burke told reporters that this “is not an ideal situation and it is not good for the young people of Grenada”.
“We call upon the government to address this situation; tell us, the plans that are in store to provide some sort of sustainable employment for the young people of this country”, he said.
The Mitchell-led NNP swept the polls in the February 2013 general elections wining all fifteen seats in Parliament on a campaign platform of having investors lined up to create thousands of jobs and to build a new economy for the island.
Its three-and-a-half year rule has been noted for sweeping austerity measures including hikes on a number of taxes, a wage freeze for public servants, widening the income tax net and entering an arrangement with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address the island’s massive national debt of EC$2.7 billion.
The current rulers have also been resisting demands from the IMF to cut the wage bill through retrenchment in the public service.