Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Economist, Dr. Justin Ram.
The alarming rate of unemployment in the Caribbean continues to be a major talking point across the region.

However, a top official of the Caribbean Development Bank is going one step further by suggesting that this situation has to be addressed or it could affect the region. That official is Dr. William Warren Smith, President of the CDB.

“In some of our countries, we are talking about youth unemployment around 30 per cent, some even higher, but the point is, whatever the number, it is extremely high, and the significance of that number is that it represents real risk to social and economic stability,” he said.

He explained that is the element referred to as youth at risk, meaning, everyone is at risk because as the old saying goes “the devil finds work for idle hands,” he reasoned.

“In the region there are not adequate statistics on these areas, however it is something that needs to be addressed to have policies targeted at addressing these issues,” the CDB President said.

Economist, Dr. Justin Ram, also echoed similar statements. “Another worrying trend we need to be cognisant of with respects to employment rate is that around the world, youth unemployment rates are signif-icantly high, both in major markets and in the Caribbean, and we therefore need to pay special attention to this area,”
he remarked.

“In terms of the unemployment rates, not many of our countries are up to date on unemployment data. In Barbados, we know unemployment figures in the Barbados economy are currently around 11 per cent. The level of unemployment in Jamaica are relatively high, close to 20 per cent.”

The figures that we have seen indicate that unemployment rates continue to be at levels higher than we would want to see in developing countries.

Many have suggested that there needs to be more focus on non-traditional industries, such as creative industries, which tend to be attractive to the youth.

However, recently, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, Caribbean Export Development Agency, believes one of the major problems eminent in our society is that the creative agencies continue to be treated as an afterthought by many of our policymakers and political heads. It is not thought about as a policy objective, but is merely viewed as something that comes naturally, and because of that, we have not really had an overarching policy dynamic that governs the way we engage the creative industries.

According to him, “Therefore, one of the things we will be looking at doing is looking at the export value of our music, the issue of intellectual property and the values that come through intellectual property and branding which has not really occurred in our region. We talk about it in generic terms, we use anecdotal evidence but we don’t have the numbers and data that drives our policy imperative, and that will be critical moving forward.” (NB)

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