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Minister Invests in Youth

Ministry of Education and DER officials with Chamber and industry representatives at a recent presentation of the Ministry's Youth Employment Strategy.

Results from the Economics & Statistics Office's 2008 Labour Force Survey indicate that 35 percent of 15-19 year olds are unemployed. Intent on reducing these figures, Labour Minister, the Hon. Rolston Anglin has introduced a youth employment strategy.

"This strategy will ensure that our young people have employable skills and that employers can find in them the skills required to support their businesses," the Minister said. "For many years we've invested millions in our infrastructure because we can see immediate results," he continued. "The results of investing in our people may take longer to materialise, but we must 'up-skill' our entire workforce if we hope to remain competitive."

Designed to improve employment prospects and opportunities for young Caymanians through education, training and job placement support, the programme is named The National Employment Passport Programme.

It's the product of a ministry-assembled youth employment taskforce, which includes representatives from the Ministry of Education, Department of Employment Relations (DER), Department of Education Services, University College, RCIPS and John Gray High School.

To be driven by industry needs, the programme will incorporate feedback from potential private sector employers and other industry partners. "While addressing student's needs, we must also address those of the private sector," Minister Anglin said.

Recent meetings involving ministry and DER officials, Chamber of Commerce and various industry representatives garnered positive feedback and expressions of interest.

Participants highlighted the need for the inclusion of 'soft skills' such as work ethic, cultural empathy, business attire, and writing and other communication skills, in the programme. They also stressed the inclusion of relevant work experience as part of training, in addition to the need for instructors who are themselves industry practitioners.

Drawing on this feedback, the youth employment taskforce will further develop the programme for a presentation to key stakeholders by the end of August.

DER Director Lonny Tibbetts noted that as a cost saving measure, the programme will exploit existing resources. As such, training will be offered collaboratively through UCCI, the Chamber of Commerce, British Red Cross and other local institutions and individuals.

The youth employment strategy is the first of a number of human capital development initiatives the ministry will be introducing in coming months.

These include proposals for a national skills development strategy; a financial services institute, and a technical and vocational education strategy. Terms of reference have been developed and taskforces are being established.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Kenisha Morgan