Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
One of the issues that dominated a community meeting held at the Purcell Community Centre last evening, June 21, was the high rate of unemployment among the youth in District Six.
District Representative, Hon. Alvera Maduro-Caines said she has been making numerous efforts to position the young men for jobs; however, some of them are just not interested.
"I have spoken to several young men in Purcell, Baughers Bay and Belle Vue concerning jobs. There are those who want to work and then there are those who don't want to work. Yes, there are those who don't want to work. For instance, in Baughers Bay, I sent four young men to a company which was like two months ago and as of today, none of them showed up. So it's not that I am not trying to help the situation. A young man called me tonight from Belle Vue and I said go to Solid Waste Department tomorrow, fill out an application; I will call and see...," she lamented.
The District Representative said she is trying to get some of the young men to move away from the mentality of only waiting until the time comes around for bush cutting contracts.
"I am trying to change that mindset because there are those who just want to sit down and wait until bush cutting contracts come out...And I am trying to say to them, that is not enough; that is a one time thing; we are trying to get you a full-time job, but there are those who are just relaxed with that...We are trying to change that...So we are trying to help those who really need help," she asserted.
One resident stated that the young men in Purcell are marginalized and some of them do not take up the offer to go to an interview because they know that in any event, they will be turned down. He mentioned that a young man suffered the same faith recently at the Fire Department.
"...We need to break that stereotype of guys from Purcell," the resident stated.
Hon. Ronnie Skelton, Minister for Health and Social Development said there is no doubt that finding jobs for persons is a problem. He said it will not be an overnight fix, but Government has to address it.
"And I know it's not going to be an overnight fix. And the young people who are coming out of school and have been out of school for a year or two, they are the ones who are hurting the most. So as a Government we have to address this problem, we have to get jobs in this country and it's not going to happen tomorrow, but any little thing that we have to do we must...And I cannot stress that anymore; we must get our people to do the work," Hon. Skelton stated.
At Large Representative, Hon. Archibald Christian told residents that Government will do all that is necessary to ensure that young people are gainfully employed. He mentioned the Education and Culture Youth Unemployment Programme (YUR). He said some of those persons have since been employed.
"It is going to be an ongoing thing...What we need to ensure is that our people have a willing heart and a spirit to want to work, and we are going to fight to ensure that those people who want to work get jobs. But it is going to take some time and I guarantee you that with the determination that we have, we are going to see what we can do," he said.
Also commenting on the issue was Hon. Marlon Penn, Eighth District Representative, who said that preparing the youth for interviews and the world of work is paramount in the process.
"What the Education Minister is doing, is as soon as a job opportunity go into that register, try to place persons based on their skill levels. That is another issue that we have; we have to try our best to build a skill level," he stated.
Hon. Penn said a community-based programme will soon be getting underway in East End to focus on capacity building.
"...One of the things we are doing in East End is putting together a programme to help some of these young men build their capacity and skills; teach them what to do on an interview...In order to prepare them...We as a community can come together and teach them...It's a community-based programme where members of the community will be giving expertise to help our young people."
He said he is willing to work with the Sixth District Representative on a similar programme for her district.
Meanwhile, a resident raised concerns over family members of officials being awarded contracts. However, Hon. Maduro-Caines said she has never given out contracts to any of her family members. She told residents that she has only given out two sets of contracts since taking office.
"I have only given out two sets of contracts so far...I really don't know if you are referring to me with family, but I identified one or two young men in Purcell and I said these are the contracts, ensure you make sure everybody is in on...At Christmas, Purcell had the biggest set of contracts given out and I am sorry if you [resident] didn't get one, but I was new to this thing; to seeing how the system works."
She added, "And the names that I saw, there were a lot of names and none were my family...Same in other areas...I try to find people who will make sure that each and everybody get some kind of work to do within the district and not just to be given to the same set of people all the time."