Halkitis concerned about youth unemployment
By KRYSTEL ROLLE-BROWN
Guardian Staff Reporter
Although the unemployment rate has generally improved, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis yesterday said the rate of joblessness among young people remains a concern and will require “focused attention”.
Unemployment among young people aged 15 to 24 decreased from 32.3 percent to 28 percent, but remains higher than all other groups.
Halkitis said the rate of unemployment historically has been considerably higher than any other age group. However, he said the government is working to “open new doors of opportunity” for the youth and improve the economic conditions for all.
“The emphasis is on growing the economy so everyone in all age groups benefits while at the same time making the investments in education and training to equip everyone but especially young people to take advantage of the opportunities that are becoming available,” Halkitis said.
According to the latest survey, 8,390 net jobs have been added to the economy since May 2012.
The number of people employed in May 2012 was 160,650 compared to the 169,040 people employed as of May 2014.
Halkitis said the government is looking to improve upon that figure by focusing on education as well.
“We believe that the creation of the national training agency is helping young people in the area of skills development to help them to take advantage of opportunities,” Halkitis said. “This had been a major concern among employers, the lack of skills particularly the so-called soft skills. For example, customer service.
“Also, the minister of education is introducing an equivalency diploma geared towards individuals who have not finished high school. The diploma will open new doors of opportunity for young people.
“The development of BAMSI (Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute) will provide training in the area of agriculture and marine science and allow all including young people to exploit opportunities in the area of agriculture and marine science.”
Unemployment in The Bahamas dropped from 15.4 percent in November 2013 to 14.3 percent in May 2014, according to the results of the latest Labour Force Survey released on Friday.
The survey conducted in May references the period April 28 to May 4, 2014.
While the economy isn’t where the government wants it to be, Halkitis said things are looking up.
“[I would be] happy with a faster pace of growth but [I am] pleased that things are moving in the right direction,” he said. “It gives cause for continued optimism.”
The survey shows that discouraged workers declined by 27.8 percent nationally, from 6,765 in November 2013 to 4,880 in May 2014.
The number of discouraged workers fell from 3,335 to 2,920 (12.4 percent) in New Providence and dropped from 1,915 to 760 (60 percent) in Grand Bahama.
Halkitis said the decrease in the number of discouraged workers is a “positive indication of the improving health of the Bahamian labor market.”
July 21, 2014