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Youth and the Global Economic Crisis
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Youth and the Global Economic Crisis

Shellecia Brooks

Shellecia Brooks, Commonwealth Youth Ambassador

The Anguilla National Youth Council (ANYC) and National Youth Ambassador Corp (NYAC) are autonomous and non-partisan organizations whose mandate is to represent and articulate on behalf of Anguilla’s youth. The ANYC and NYAC firmly believe that it is imperative that youth are involved in all aspects of Anguilla’s Development. Youth must not be seen as a problem to be solved but rather as assets to be nurtured and as strategic partners in the development process. It is imperative therefore, that youth contribute to not only the discourse but also to the solutions on serious issues facing both Youth and all Anguillians.

Over the last three years we have all been privy to information concerning the global economic crisis and have directly experienced its effects. We all know that in the Caribbean region and specifically in Anguilla some of the symptoms were reduced tourists arrivals and drops in occupancy levels, closure of hotels and failures to complete others, reductions in capital expenditure and negative GDP Growth and Underemployment and Unemployment. These issues affected all Anguillians but worldwide youth were disproportionately affected by the latter issues. Indeed underemployment and unemployment, which are major problems among youth particularly in the Caribbean region was exacerbated by the Global Economic Crisis.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Global Employment Trends for Youth 2010 report “in the current context of economic instability, young men and women today face increasing uncertainty in their hopes of making a satisfactory labour market transition. Clearly, the global economic crisis has further exposed the fragility of youth in the labour market. At the end of 2009, there were an estimated 81 million unemployed young people in the world. This was 7.8 million more than the number in 2007 at the start of the global crisis. The youth unemployment rate rose sharply during the economic crisis – more sharply than ever before – from 11.9 to 13.0 per cent.” No doubt young people are the hardest hit by economic woes and such a situation provide an inextricable link between youth, crime and poverty as persons seek any means necessary to survive. In Anguilla, we may be starting to see the effects of this.

While in Anguilla, we do not collect comprehensive underemployment and unemployment information, and I am sure we all anticipate the findings of our Census this year; it is evident that a large portion of the youth population is unemployed. Second to crime and violence, unemployment has been identified as one of the biggest threats facing youth in the region. There are many young people in Anguilla who have lost jobs in construction, tourism and other sectors. Others are still unemployed after graduating from secondary school and University mid last year. To compound the problem, there will be another cohort of graduates from the Albena Lake Hodge Comprehensive School in June 2011, in addition to a large number of students returning to Anguilla with University degrees in a few months.

The economic crisis has intensified the difficulties youth face in finding decent employment, gaining access to credit, achieving independence and being fully included in society. Some of our young people have turned to crime, delinquency and drugs. Even employed youth are fearful that they are at the greatest risk of losing their jobs due to having the least experience and on-the-job-training.

Youth are definitely not immune to the impacts of the economic crisis. However, with the support of Government and the Private Sector, Anguilla’s youth have a role to play in helping Anguilla to survive during this economic crisis facing our Economy and Society.

The youth believe that some of the recommendations presented on Youth Development and the Global Economic Crisis at the 4th Annual National Conference on Youth and Development have merit and if implemented can directly benefit Anguilla’s economy.

During the Conference on December 22nd, 2010, our youth clearly stated that they require help in achieving market-relevant and life skills, access to financial services and technology, and opportunities to participate at all levels of decision making.  Further, they articulated that investment in technical education, entrepreneurship opportunities and support, and the need for Government and the Private sector to create opportunities and incentives to develop alternative industries such as fishing, agriculture and offshore financial services will help to spur economic growth and social progress.

The ANYC and YAC also support the recommendations of The Commonwealth Strategic Plan 2008-2012 which advocates that given the opportunity and the means, youth engagement in micro-credit and micro-finance programmes would have a tremendous impact in helping them to bear the brunt of the economic crisis. Support, training and mentorship for the development of Small and Micro enterprises would also create employment and support economic growth.

Similarly, youth require financial, volunteer and mentorship support and we would like to appeal to all sectors of our society to increase the support given to genuine activities and youth organisations. Such efforts and interventions provide positive avenues for youth to channel their energies and greatly aid in their holistic development.

We must not forget our youth who are still in the education system as they too are feeling the effects of the Crisis. We implore you to continue to be diligent in your studies and to stay informed so that you will be well prepared to make your contribution to Anguilla’s development. For the youth who are underemployed and unemployed, we ask you to be patient, to be innovative and creative with entrepreneurial ideas and to seek opportunities where you can volunteer or intern in order to develop your work and life skills. To those youth who are employed, despite reduced salaries, a freeze on increments, reduced employee benefits or reduced hours, continue to operate at the most efficient and productive levels.

It would be remiss of me not to address the issue of money management and savings. I implore our youth and indeed all Anguillians to not spend more than you earn, to save all you can and to forego all expenditure which is unnecessary and not within your budget.

All Anguillians including youth are in this economic crisis together and we must together demonstrate resilience and strength of character and work in partnership in order to successfully navigate this Economic Crisis.

Submitted by Shellecia Brooks, Commonwealth Youth Ambassador

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