The Unity Labour Party (ULP) regime has deceived the youth of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They were promised thousands of jobs, and nineteen (19) years after the ULP gained power the situation remains the same. During the recently held general elections campaign, the New Democratic Party (NDP) presented an impressive programme of job creation and opportunities for our youth. Unfortunately, the youth will not benefit from our programme and are still suffering.
The youth supported the NDP because of the high unemployment rate. They supported because they were fed up on the ULP. They supported because they were fed up of the victimization and nepotism.
They supported because they wanted cheaper interest rate on their student loan, and more opportunities to succeed. They supported because they wanted change. They supported because they wanted jobs.
As you traverse this country, the number of young people who are on the ‘block’ unemployed is astonishing. As a matter of fact, the IMF stated that youth unemployment was 46% before COVID -19. The young people are crying out for jobs. Because of the high rate of unemployment and the lack of meaningful opportunities for the youth, it is believed that some of them are involved in criminal activities.
The NDP is deeply concerned about the current state of affairs of the youth. The party has developed programmes and policies to create jobs and to exploit the talent and abilities which these young people possess. We see the talent and energy of the country’s youth as pivotal in an 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.
Because of the situation which exists, we remind Vincentians of our programme for the youth. Had the NDP been in office, the NDP would have increased and diversify the scholarship programme and reduce the interest on student loan. The existing scholarship programme would have been improved to offer a wider variety of opportunities for young people to access higher education in properly accredited universities and colleges worldwide. Diverse scholarships would have been sourced to encouraged persons into non-traditional education including opportunities for young people in culture, music and sports.
Also, design and implement non – academic incentive programme for youth. The NDP believes that young people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines must be encouraged to believe in their own self- worth. With this in mind, the NDP would have organized targeted incentive programmes to encourage our youths in the many areas of non-academic achievements.
We would have also implemented and promote a wide-ranging suite of awards for youth achievement. The NDP would have encouraged youth achievement in all areas by promoting a wide-ranging suite of national, regional and international awards that will inspire and motivate our youth. These include: the National Environment Youth award, a new national program that would have recognized young people across St. Vincent and the Grenadines for projects and activities that demonstrate their commitment to the environment. The Youth Minister’s Positive Image Awards; this would have been a new program that would have run by the minister responsible for youth, to recognize the many people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who are working towards promoting a more positive image of young people within their schools and communities; the International Awards for Youth, an internationally sponsored award for young people between the ages of 14 and 25 years; and the Wave makers, a programme to be administered through the Youth Department.
In addition, we would have worked to rehabilitate and reintegrate young offenders to society. An unfortunate mistake made by a young person should not be a life sentence that condemns him or her to hopelessness. Under a new programme to be developed by the NDP, young offenders would have been offered second chances through targeted programmes of technical and vocational training, counselling and rehabilitation and tackle the problem of street children at the source.
The NDP would have worked to improve the ability of the Social Welfare, Liberty Lodge Boys’ Training Centre and the Family Courts systems to identify and intervene to assist children and youth who are at risk, before their situations become hopeless; and provide increased support for youth through the Social and Spiritual Redemption Charter, every properly constituted youth organization (Girl Guides, Boys Brigade, etc.) would have been given financial and other material support and would have been able to be more effective at diverting the energies of youth into productive areas.
Moreover, the NDP would have spearheaded the formation of youth committees to be attached to each ministry. These committees would have been the human interface for two-way exchange of information between the ministry and the youth and would have ensured that the ideas, opinions and viewpoints of our young people are incorporated to policy- making; the NDP government would have encouraged and support the formation of a youth parliament where young people with an interest in politics can develop their understanding of the practice and methods of the parliamentary system.
We would have also improved and expand skills training by utilizing the various resource, multipurpose and community centres around St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And support music education in schools from the earliest level with a view to establishing a Youth Orchestra and permanent music programme in schools.
These programmes can only benefit the youth when we are in office. We urge you to remain engaged in the political process, so we can bring about the change that is needed. In the recent campaign, your voice was loud and strong, and yo