Young people voice employment concerns at Trinidad and Tobago’s National Youth Employment Forum

Approximately two hundred and sixty young persons met to exchange their views on the issues and challenges impacting on their access to employment opportunities.

News | 03 April 2012
PORT OF SPAIN (ILO News) - Approximately two hundred and sixty young persons met to exchange their views on the issues and challenges impacting on their access to employment opportunities at a National Youth Employment Forum on 27 March 2012. The Forum was held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, under the theme: “My work, my future, my life“. It was hosted by the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, with the support of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, to mark March as Youth Employment Month.

In the opening address at the Forum, the Hon. Errol McLeod, Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development emphasized the value of work as a critical factor in realizing the future that young people envision.

“It is not only a means of earning an income but it gives us an opportunity to use our skills and talents and create meaning in our lives. In fact, it is said that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary, “ said Minister McLeod.

Citing youth unemployment levels in Trinidad and Tobago to be about twice that of adult rates, the Minister indicated that he was determined to improve the situation with the help and support of the young people. He urged them to provide their feedback on how the numerous programmes for youth are working and how they can be improved to better meet their needs.

In her remarks at the Opening, Mrs. Sandra Jones, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, said that the Ministry strives towards the realization of young people as change agents whose representation and involvement will lead towards local, national, and regional development.

“We are also in the process of developing a Youth Employment Policy which will provide a framework for identifying and engaging all issues related to and impacting on youth and employment, “ said Mrs. Jones.

“It will act as a coordinating mechanism within which the work of all agencies, state and non-state actors, that engage in various aspects of youth and employment, can be facilitated in an integrated and harmonious way,” she added.

The discussions at the Forum focused on key issues pertaining to youth employment, including decent work for youth; education and training for the world of work; apprenticeships, internships and other work-experience programmes; workplace ethics; employment for rural youth; and youth entrepreneurship and self-employment. Working Group Sessions on ten thematic areas which were facilitated by representatives of the Ministries and the ILO Decent Work Team, were held. The youth participants presented on the deliberations of the Working Groups.

During the Forum, young people also learnt of the personal experiences of two young entrepreneurs, David Thomas and Rachel Renie, owners of the online business “Market Movers” and Veera Bhajan, a young person born with a disability, who was able to rise above the challenges to become a lawyer.

Youtube Video on youth employment: National Employment Forum: My work, my future, my life


“There is no handicap in life but bad attitudes,” Veera Bhajan concluded, in her moving remarks about linking social and employability skills with academic studies and practice.

The recommendations brought forward by the young people at the Forum were shared with 50 policy makers to assist in improving the design and implementation of policies, including revisions to the National Youth Policy, and the proposed development of the National Youth Employment Policy as well as programmes and projects targeted at developing young people.

Youth employment is a priority for the ILO this year and the main focus of the International Labour Conference in June, given the on-going global employment crisis. Of the world’s total number of unemployed in 2010, nearly 40 per cent – or about 75 million – were between 15 and 24 years of age. In the run-up to the Conference, ILO member States are organizing events during March and April to listen to and consult young people. The events will culminate in a major Global Youth Employment Forum on 23-25 May 2012 in Geneva where tripartite constituents will share with youth representatives and directors of youth councils on best practices and experiences of youth employment from around the world.