Focus: Economic Development- Youth unemployment
In the next eight years I will like to see a reduction in the unemployment rate in Grenada.
Some of the causes of unemployment in Grenada are:
> Lack of available jobs- there is not many skilled or unskilled jobs available in Grenada. Grenada is not an industrialized economy; the country imports most of its items. Imports are more than exports. For example, Food imports account for more than one quarter of Grenada’s total imports. In addition, the public sector is over staffed. For example the teaching industry is really saturated. The private sector on the other hand is experiencing slow growth due to the sluggish economy and is rarely hiring additional staffs.
> Dependence on family- Some youth after applying several times for a job and was unsuccessful, become de-motivated and as a result quit searching. Most of their families abroad then send financial assistance to them, causing them to look no further for available vacancies. As a result of this they become heavily dependent on family remittances.
> Jobs wanted is not available- since that many of the jobs the youth want to pursue is unavailable, they prefer not to settle for anything less and as a result they rather stay at home without a job.
> Experience vs. qualifications- this has been a very controversial topic for many years. There are many youth out there who are qualified but lack the necessary experience for a particular position, especially at managerial levels. As a result of this, they are denied from receiving the available position. On the other hand, there are some youth who do not have the necessary qualifications for a particular job but knows how to do the job and are still denied from getting a chance because they lack qualifications.
Impact of Unemployment
Society – it is difficult to calculate the social cost of unemployment. High levels of unemployment can cause persons within a country to migrate to other countries in search of jobs and as a result the country can experience high rates of brain drain.
Persons can also leave the rural areas and migrate to urban areas for better standard of living. This can result in the urban areas being very populated and clustered or experienced urban gigantism. Some disadvantages of urbanization are “social costs of progressive overloading of housing and social services, increased crime, increased pollution, congestion costs: higher costs of real estate” (Todaro, 2009).
Studies have shown that high levels of unemployment can lead to crime. If persons are not receiving a salary they may turn to other illegal means such as drugs, robbing etc to satisfy their economic needs or they may turn to crime as a matter of boredom.
Businesses- high levels of unemployment in a country can have a negative impact on businesses such as less demand for their products/services. They may also face with the struggle of retaining or hiring workers.
Consumers – if there is a job loss that means the person is unemployed and being unemployed means that the consumer has less spending power. This will have a negative impact on the person standard of living because what he or she could have afforded before they are unable to do so now. Unlike the Uk, Grenada does not provide unemployment benefits as a result the unemployed individual may have to look for job or assistance elsewhere. Continuous unemployment can result in the erosion of skills, thus taking away useful talents from the economy. In addition, long periods of unemployment can distort families from providing an education to their children and as a result rob the economy of those future skills. Studies have shown that long term unemployment can destroy the mental health of workers and can even damage physical health as well thus limiting one’s lifespan.
Economy- high levels of unemployment will eventually lead to less people paying taxes or less disposable income. When people spend money, it helps boosts the economy via taxes, hence the reason everything is taxed. When people shop, the taxed money is added up; however, if there are high levels of unemployment persons will eventually survive on their savings or in some countries unemployment benefits. If this unemployment continues, persons can only buy what they need and not what they want. But not having sufficient spending power, businesses may be forced to lower prices in order to make a sale. When prices are cut in a business, it can result in little, no or negative profits. If this pattern continues, the business may be forced to shut down thus resulting in more levels of unemployment.
Some of the strategies I believe can aid in reducing the unemployment situation in Grenada in the next 8 years are:
- Scholarships- many young persons are graduating from secondary and tertiary level (college) and are finding it difficult to find a good job. The job market is very competitive out there since we are living in a globalize economy and is a member of CSME. To help curb the unemployment situation temporarily, the government should assist in providing scholarships to the youth who are willing to further their education, instead of sitting down home doing nothing. A question that may pop up is, isn’t the government providing scholarships? The answer is, YES. However, most of the available scholarships by the government focuses on areas where the local market is already saturated for example business and medical field. The government or the local universities should diversify educational options by opening inroads into new areas of study such as bio medical, chemical engineering, forensic accounting, forensic science etc. In so doing, the country will no longer have to bring in large number of expertise to get jobs done because they will have on their very own soil. In addition, on the return of these young persons from studying, they can now open their own businesses if they do not have interest in working with the public sector.
- Education and Entrepreneurship- another main way to reduce unemployment among the youth is through Entrepreneurship. Lately many people have been leaving school and coming into the labor force looking for jobs. However, if these jobs are not created then unemployment will just continue to skyrocket. With entrepreneurship, an entrepreneur combines factors of production to create value, one such factor is labor. He or she will now be able to contribute in lowering the unemployment figures by providing jobs. Additionally, in the educational system there is a need to change the curriculum, parents need to stop telling the kids to go school and get good grades in order to get a good job; in that way they are creating employees and not employers. In my opinion, it’s all about entrepreneurship because it is the avenue for employment and wealth creation.
- In support of this point, there are institutions such as ECCB, GIDC, GCIC that provide entrepreneurship training and support (with little or no charge) for young persons who are willing to start a new business venture. The Government of Grenada along with the Grenada Development Bank also makes it a little easier for young entrepreneurs to open their own business by providing an interest rate of 3% and 6%.
- In being an entrepreneur, one has to be innovative and great at problem solving. I have closely monitored small business development in Grenada and noticed that the market is saturated with same/similar businesses. Persons need to think outside of the box, be innovative, and be a trend setter, problem solver and not a follower.
- Education and training- it is true that not everyone in a country can be entrepreneurs and not everyone has the qualities of being an entrepreneur; as a result young people should be taught how to be prepared for the world of work. There are a few secondary schools that practice this formal training through it curriculum (St. Joseph Convent Commercial). Many schools just focus on the subjects to be taught and doesn’t take part in shaping and moulding an individual for the world of work. As a result of this many young person’s even though they are qualified for a position sometimes find it difficult to adjust to real life work environment. Most of them enter into the workforce with the wrong mentality, attitude and behavior.
- Experience vs. qualification- as mentioned before there are many young people who has the qualifications, however it is combined with little or no work experience; thus resulting in employers not giving them a chance to work. But the question to be asked here is, if one is not given the chance to work, how will he gain work experienced? private and government businesses should give these young people a chance to work and grow within the organization, so that they can gain the experience. In addition, a workforce with a mixture of young persons and experienced individuals can be very beneficial to the company. With the young people coming out fresh from school they can help contribute with new and innovative ideas, while the experienced people guiding them, but this is only one flip of the coin.
- Create proper retirement package for senior citizens- if the government create an attractive package for retirees, most of them will be motivated to go home and enjoy their retirement benefits instead of remaining in the workforce. By having many persons who pass their retirement age in the labour force collecting a salary and still pension, does not make matters easier for a country. What will eventually happen is that the country will be stuck with one set of people in the labour force. With an attractive retirement package in place, potential retirees will now be able to leave the workforce happy and thus creating employment for someone else.
> On the other hand, young people without experience should get a chance to be a part of the labor force. Public and private sectors can adapt to junior-senior teams. As mentioned earlier many young people lack experience whereas the elderly workers produce less. A solution to this situation is the endorsement of Junior- Senior teams: this is where a young worker partners with an elderly worker. By doing this, they can provide support for each other by sharing knowledge and experience from the elderly worker to the young worker. In addition the young employee can assist the elderly employee to maintain productivity by supplying complementary skills such as technological, communication and physical strength.
6. Globalization has its advantages and disadvantages. However one of its advantages is that it opens up a new avenue for individuals to be a part of the global village. Jobs can be done electronically and from anywhere around the world once there is internet access available. Youth who have access to computer and internet services can offer their services/skills globally. There are many online jobs available around the world that requires persons with different skills and qualifications. This point can help to curb unemployment on a global level or for persons who have the adequate facilities, but it is most likely a challenge for persons in the rural areas who are limited to such facilities.
- Factories- Grenada is not factory based. There are just a few factories in the country. We produced everything in its raw state, export it and then buy it back as a final good. Setting up a factory can be very easy or difficult. It all depends on cost, location, market, barriers etc. however at times sometimes you have to start small in order to grow big. One or two farmers can come together and formed a cooperative, where they can pooled in resources and formed a company for example agro processing. By forming this cooperative, one can look at the export market in terms of organics and also lowering the unemployment rate because persons will be hired.
- The government should look for external aid- the proverb “If you give a man fish you feed him for a day, but show him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” is a very interesting proverb. Government should not receive money to help alleviate poverty or unemployment; receiving monies is just a short term fix. It does not solve the root causes of poverty and as a result there will always be poverty. What government can do is to seek assistance from affluent countries to help develop and sustain their economy. For example through well thought out capacity building programs.
I can go on and on, but I will end here.
Submitted by: Nicole Cambridge