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"Youths are unsuspecting victims of unemployment"
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"Youths are unsuspecting victims of unemployment"

Advira Shand

Youth unemployment is a discouraging fact, but Advira Shand, 24, a Correspondent from Manchester in Jamaica, says policy changes and activism can pave the way to solutions.

It has become customary to see scores of educated unemployed Jamaican youths lining streets in an attempt to gain access to employment.

Growing up I was fed daily with the mantra “education is the key to success”. However, on completing my Bachelor’s degree I found it quite challenging to acquire a suitable full-time job. I hopped from internship to internship, and on becoming frustrated with my dismal situation I started my own business.

This is the reality of numerous youths around the globe, especially youths who reside in developing states. According to the Commonwealth Youth Development Index “the average youth unemployment rate in Commonwealth countries is 22.9 per cent, compared to the global average of 19.2 per cent”. Many youths, after spending a plethora of years in secondary and tertiary institutions are unable occupy a decent job and are left nursing unfulfilled dreams. Many are constantly hounded by student loan entities and are held hostage by depression.

Governments throughout the region are currently scurrying about trying to find a cure for the youth unemployment epidemic. They have launched numerous youth entrepreneurship initiatives and skills training programs, all of which have been successful in helping a miniscule percentage of unemployed youths.  So what will become of the youths that are left behind? International statistics confirm that many youths resort to crime, drug abuse and other illicit activities because of unemployment. It was postulated in the Jamaica Observer that unemployment among Jamaican youths often leads to their involvement in crime and to migration.

While Government-led entrepreneurship and skills training initiatives can be commended, there is a lot that is needed to be done. Firstly, policy-makers stress the need for more youth entrepreneurs, yet they offer little or no financial support in the creation of youth-run businesses. Secondly, government officials are still in the business of importing goods and services from their overseas counterparts while ignoring identical goods and services produced by local youth businesses. Lastly, the sordid economic climate that many youth economic ventures are given birth in is not able to facilitate their growth.

The youth population has suffered long and hard because of the paralyzing effects of unemployment and they need a change. When this change will come about is unknown to me. Given our social, political and economic realities and the failed attempts of policy makers this sought-after ‘change’ is, maybe, merely a figment of our imaginations. However, Edgar Guest in his inspiring poem entitled, Don’t Quit, posited that “don’t give up though the pace seems slow, you may succeed with another blow”.

I would like to implore unemployed youths that despite unwavering dismal situations they should never give up. Continue fighting to make your dreams a reality. Lobby with local officials for more jobs for your constituencies. Start a business that offers goods and services that are in demand. Arm yourselves with skills that will make you more marketable. Explore job opportunities outside your country. The possibilities are endless!

Photo: http://mrg.bz/mzClcl

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About me:

It is my desire to inspire growth among youths and within the region I inhabit. I have  Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and serve as a Managing Partner at WAGS Construction. It is my intention to undertake graduate studies that will help me in my quest to occupy a position within my country where I can assist in crafting policies that will fuel development within developing states.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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