The battle for the youth vote in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is being fought on the issue of jobs and it is clear that the New Democratic Party (NDP) sees it as a weakness in the governing Unity Labour Party (ULP) political armour.
Speaker after speaker at every rally has been pressuring the ULP on what they consider the defining campaign issue of ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.’
The party has been making its case to ‘make SVG work again’, a spin on US President Donald Trump 2016 election slogan, noting that the youth unemployment rate is hovering around 46 per cent.
However, political leader Dr Godwin Friday may have over the weekend admitted that school aged children who cannot legally work full-time are included in the statistics.
He went further than other speakers during a campaign event in Mayreau last week weekend to say:
“Young people between the ages of fifteen (15) and twenty-four (24), 46 per cent of those persons according to the International Monetary Fund, in St. Vincent were unemployed. That’s in 2018. That’s almost half of the young people.”
In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, most students complete secondary school between the ages of 15-18 before going on to pursue post-secondary and tertiary education at the St. Vincent Community College and universities around the world.
Others leaving secondary school or who do not matriculate may seek employment opportunities or resit their exams.
However, Dr Friday went on to add:
“It’s no wonder that young people are saying that in this country we have no future and they are finding all desperate means to leave our shores. When they do that, all of us lose, as a lot of talented people leave St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
“In fact, the most resourceful people are the first to leave because they have the means, they have the wits, we all lose because we lose people who could be helping to develop and build our country.”
Member of Parliament for the Southern Grenadines Terrance Ollivierre speaking after Dr Friday contradicted his party leader’s position. He said at the same meeting in Mayreau that young people will benefit from the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ)
which will allow them to travel overseas to take up employment under an NDP administration.