On the Corner with EPOC | 'Our youth want jobs' - Grants Pen residents say basic employment evading the young
Long-time residents of the North East St Andrew community of Grants Pen are calling on Government to invest in job creation so that qualified and skilled youngsters don't fall through the cracks.
Participating in the latest Gleaner On the Corner with EPOC (Economic Programme Oversight Committee) forum last Thursday, Verna Robinson, proprietor of VT's Place on Grants Pen Road, said that dozens of qualified, eager, high-school graduates were home unproductive.
Robinson, whose 17-year-old establishment housed the forum, said her 19-year-old son was among those with secondary education but unable to secure basic employment.
"Let me be clear that I'm referring to the young people that show the interest in their future. The ones that come and check you for a lunch money in the mornings, who finish school now with a lot of subjects and want to further their education, but there's no work for them in the day so they can go to school at nights," said Robinson.
"My son really wanted to work to ease the pressure off me because his school fee at Excelsior Community College is at least $220,000 per year, and the only reason I'm able to find it is because you can pay instalments.
"Like my son, a lot of the young will get jobs in the summer. The bosses tell them that they've done well over the period, yet they don't give them the opportunity to contribute once they're out of school," added Robinson.
PREREQUISITE FOR START-UP CAPITAL
While accepting that entrepreneurship is always an avenue young people should seek to exploit, the business owner argued that formal employment was a prerequisite to access start-up capital.
"If them nah earn to begin with, how them a go start the business? How them a go get the loan?" she reasoned.
Forty-four-year-old Odette Williams shared Robinson's view. She said she is uncertain of the opportunities available for her teenage daughter, who is studying agro-processing at the Ebony Park HEART Academy.
"She's my only child and I'm trying my very best for her to be a productive member of this society. So, I want to know that when she leaves that institution certified, after all my investment, she can at least find job in the field and start her own life," said Williams.
She added that unemployed young women were more vulnerable in society and urged the Government to act swiftly to relieve their plight or risk persisting the cycle of poverty.
"I've been here all my life and what I've seen is young ladies who are unemployed having three or four children and a lot of them can't support those children throughout school. So, they send them to primary and they can't advance any further. Those are fundamental issues we have to address, not just in this community but in the country," added Williams.