While suggesting that his predecessor Andrew Fahie ignored the issue of youth unemployment until he recognized the importance of youth votes, minister responsible for youth affairs Myron Walwyn said the current government is continuing to demonstrate its commitment to youth employment with the allocation of $250,000 in the budget this year.
According to Walwyn, a team from his ministry has been visiting the districts to identify young people who can be assisted with jobs through the government’s apprenticeship programme.
“There is $250,000 in the budget for youth unemployment to put an apprenticeship programme together. I have my crew in the ministry go through all the various districts – I don’t think they have completed yet, to gather a list of names of the young people who are not working so that we can start to address this situation.”
“We did some good work couple years ago with this same apprenticeship programme and it worked very well for us. We did the programme where we paid half of the salary and the employer pays the other half. And I think this $250,000 [allocated this year] is a serious commitment on the part of the government to addressing the issue of unemployment in the territory,” Walwyn recently told the House of Assembly.
The apprenticeship programme he cited was organized by the Youth Employment Services, which falls under his ministry.
“Now we have a structured programme (Youth Employment Services) in the Ministry of Education with a dedicated person, who works to ensure that we do all we can and work with the businesses to find jobs for young people. And, where they have issues and gaps in their skills, we have to try to supplement those gaps and skills with workshops and different things. And that programme I can say without fear of contradiction is the most successful employment programme in the history of the Virgin Islands.”
Walwyn, without objection from his predecessor who was in earshot, criticized the previous administration for its handling of the issue of youth unemployment prior to 2011 when the governing party changed.
“You had an unemployment problem in the country [before 2011] and you had a ministry responsible for youth affairs that did not take on the challenge to address youth unemployment. Only when they realized that the youth vote was essential and that the numbers had grown that they now see all this love for young people – all because of votes.”
“At the material time when they needed a structure in place to address the growing issue of unemployment in the country among young people, nothing – absolutely nothing was done,” added Walwyn.
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