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The Exchange | Reach unattached youth to drive productivity - AmCham president

Published:Sunday | January 20, 2019 | 12:00 AM

With Jamaica's youth unemployment rate just under 20 per cent, American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica (AmCham) President Allison Peart believes something must be done to engage these individuals to make them productive members of society.

Her comments came at the latest instalment of the Financial Gleaner/Jamaica News Network forum, 'The Exchange', held at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters last week.

"I share the concern regarding the unattached youth. Our young people are our future. We are in the digital age, the rapidly changing age," said Peart, insisting that efforts must be made to target unattached youth and create opportunities for them.

"They could turn around Jamaica. Countries right now are turned around by phenomenal ideas. So what we need is to find something to give our young people better employment," said Peart, managing partner at accounting firm Ernst & Young in Jamaica.

Commenting on the issue, co-chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Keith Duncan, said there were approximately two million employable people in Jamaica, and of that number, around 700,000 of them were unaccounted for. He said in order to make these individuals productive citizens, social intervention programmes were needed.

"We have starved the country because of how badly we have done as an economy over the last 30, 40 years. We have starved our people of resources in the key areas of education, health, training etc, to prepare these people for the workforce to ensure that they can become productive and, therefore, really get value-added jobs. The jobs we are creating are low-value-added jobs, that's why our GDP is so low," Duncan said.