Vincentians youths especially young males, as in the rest of the Caribbean are at high risk. Research has identified this risk at three levels, the individual, the micro-environment, comprising family, social networks, peers and role models, community and neighbour, and the macro-environment: mass media, the economy, public institutions, cultural and historical background, social norms and gender. It is at these levels of risks that the New Democratic Party (NDP) responses will be targeted, but it is first necessary to understand these risks.
Young people are not born as risks, but their micro and macro environments define them to a large extent, and create the conditions that lead to their risky behaviour, which is often a reaction to the circumstances within which they exist. It means that it is those circumstances that have to be altered, and those are what the NDP will target. Youths are not the problem but a product of their micro and macro environments. In most instances, youths react to the situation in which they find themselves. Therefore, the NDP will place special emphasis on the family, education, poverty alleviation, job creation and gender affairs.
It must be noted that job creation for our youths will be a major priority. We have recognized that the youths are critical to nation building and have a significant role to play in the development of our country, and will work tirelessly to provide the opportunities necessary for their advancement. We will implement a number of programmes and policies that will create thousands of jobs for them. For instance, our Citizenship by Investment Programme will be an instant game changer for job creation and to the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We have seen the benefits that our neighbouring islands are reaping from that programme.
We have also identified Information Technology as another area that that will provide opportunities for our young people. We will place tremendous emphasis on Information Technology to tackle the unemployment situation in this country which exists among our youths. In addition, we will put into operation of our Basic Needs programme and Constituency Development Fund which will also create employment.
Apart from those programmes to be implemented, we will pay special attention to agriculture. We will revitalize the agricultural sector. We will work vigorously to further develop the tourism sector and transform St. Vincent and the Grenadines into a leading destination in the Caribbean. With a thriving agricultural sector and a booming tourism industry, thousands of young Vincentians will be employed thus generating increased economic activity in the country. And we will encourage Foreign Direct Investment which will create thousands of jobs for Vincentians.
We know that small and medium sized enterprises are critical in economic growth and will create the conditions that will enable small and medium sized enterprises to develop and play a major role in entrepreneurship, and job creation.
Further, the NDP will implement youth development programmes and policies. Some of these will include reforming the education system, institutionalizing national level mentoring system for at risk youths, reforming and strengthening the legal, judicial and policing systems, using the media and social marketing and making families a top public policy issue and strengthening community and neighbourhood support to adolescents and families.
The NDP will continue to provide the opportunities for higher education for more young Vincentians to obtain degrees at home and abroad, create a diversify scholarship portfolio by providing incentives and scholarships for youths who excel in sports, the arts and extracurricular activities. The NDP will also ensure that meaningful employment is created for these youths after they have completed their studies.
We will also focus on sports and skills training. Vincentians have seen the decline in these areas since the Unity Labour Party (ULP) took power in 2001. It is the intention of the NDP to revive these crucial areas of development, so that our youths can benefit. The NDP will restructure the schools’ curriculum so that sports education can again be a priority. Hard courts will be built, enclosed, lit and properly maintained to facilitate various sporting disciplines; at least one playing field in each constituency will be lit to encourage more participation in sports and we will construction of the national stadium.
Moreover, the NDP will improve and expand skills training by utilizing the various resource, multipurpose and community centres around St. Vincent and the Grenadines, support music education in schools from the earliest level with a view to establishing a Youth Orchestra and permanent music programme in schools and also provide support for all established youth organizations.
The ULP has failed the youths of St. Vincent and the Grenadines after they were promised thousands of jobs, and eighteen years later the situation remains the same. As you traverse this country, the number of young people who are on the ‘blocks’ and are unemployed is astonishing. The International Monetary Fund report has stated that unemployment among youths is a staggering 46%, and unemployment overall is higher than 2001 when the ULP gained power. The cry of the youths is for jobs, jobs, jobs. And the ULP administration, after eighteen years in power cannot and will not create employment for the young people.The New Democratic Party has a better way. We see the talent and energy of the country’s youth as pivotal in the effort to move our beloved country forward. In diverse areas across the board, the NDP will provide the youth with the opportunities, support and facilities they need to succeed and to help build a new St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The NDP offers hope to our youths. Based on the programmes and policies, the youths of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have something to gravitate to and will have no choice but to elect the NDP when the next general elections are called so that they can benefit from our exciting programmes.