Barbados calls for dialogue with the youth reeling from unemployment

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Esther Byer-Suckoo

Caribbean States this week expressed their concerns about youth unemployment and the current global economic situation to the 101st session of the International Labour Organisation Conference in Geneva.

Barbados' Minister of Labour and Social Security Esther Byer-Suckoo warned that the global financial crisis has led to the loss of many jobs, particularly among the vulnerable youth. She said Youth unemployment is reported as being three and in some cases, five times higher than adult unemployment.

Esther Byer-Suckoo: Accentuated by the slow pace of recovery globally, young people are becoming marginalised, despondent and cynical about the future with a rise in welfare dependence, political upheaval and youth protests as seen recently across the world. We then must ensure dialogue with our young people at this time. The Cabinet of Barbados has approved a national youth policy which identifies youth unemployment as a strategic area of concern. Because this policy was formulated after indepth consultations with youth organizations and young people generally, we are confident that our National Youth Policy and our strategies will address the concerns of our youth.

NAR: The Barbados Labour Minister commended the ILO for returning the topic of youth unemployment to the agenda of the international Labor conference since it was last featured in 2005. And she turned her attention to the question of social protection.

Esther Byer-Suckoo: Barbados has a well-developed programme designed to alleviate poverty and exclusion, encourage human resource development and encouraged greater labour market participation, employability and productivity. Barbados' social protection measures include low-income housing, free health care and education, welfare provision for food, rent and subsistence and income replacement to the sick, disabled and the unemployed, having recently extended the unemployment benefit from 26 weeks to 40 weeks. We also increased by 25 per cent, the minimum wage for shop assistants, some of our most vulnerable workers. These measures are not to be seen as a handout but as an investment designed to provide a cushion during the crisis and a springboard for a better future.

NAR: Minister Esther Byer-Suckoo said Barbados proposes a National Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy and the elaboration of a National Social Policy Framework.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 2’34″

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September 2014
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