Callers Have Mixed Views on Bringing More Young People Into the Workforce

Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNSOURCE) — On Devonne Cornelius’ “The Edge” talk show on ZIZ Radio, a conversation about young people’s participation in nation-building took place.

Callers to the programme voiced concerns about older and more seasoned workers not allowing fresh graduates to work and gain experience. 

“These people have already made their contribution. Go home and enjoy your retirement. You have to move over and hand over the baton for those who are waiting. People go to university and come back with debt and when they go to look for a job, we tell them that they are over qualified… and then you’re going to hire a 65 year old,” one caller said. 

Another caller said: “I do believe that we should have some seniors stay on only just to teach the youth the ropes of the work. Because governments run on a formality. Having more youth in the job force is not a problem because sometimes they say you don’t have the experience but at the same time, you don’t necessarily need the experience. You can learn on the job.former Prime Minister Dr. Douglas and former President Obama learned on the job.”

The discussion came on the heels of the National Consultation with the youth entitled “Transformation to a Sustainable Island State: A Conversation with the Nation’s Youth” which was held on Wednesday, October 11, 2023, at 9:30 a.m., at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.

There, the emphasis was on hearing about seven important economic pillars from young people and important government ministries and organisations. These seven pillars are the Creative Economy, Economic Diversification, Sustainable Industries, COVID-19 Recovery, Social Protection, and Food for Security.

Jamaican editor and publisher, Michele Marius, in a commentary on August 22, 2022, gave reasons for brain drain. She said, “Human flight in Caribbean countries is not new. Starting in the 1950s and 1960s, skilled and semi-skilled talent left British colonies to try to create a better life in the United Kingdom and, to a lesser degree, in the United States and Canada. We can go further back to the building of the Panama Canal in the early 1900s, when skilled workers from across the Caribbean relocated to take advantage of the available opportunities.

In striving to give our students a first-world education, we have ended up in a situation where, depending on the field, our countries have skilled persons who are overqualified for the local job market. For example, if a handful of people from a particular Caribbean country studied advanced robotics, neural networks or artificial intelligence research, that country may have only a few openings each year (if at all), which is insufficient to absorb all of those who may want jobs in these fields.

Coupled with the previous point is the fact that, although a country may need certain skills, the potential supply may exceed the demand and once again result in people being unemployed or under-employed.”

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