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Stephen plans to shine - Proposals to reduce youth unemployment among the targets for new G2K head

Published:Wednesday | February 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM
President of G2K Stephen Edwards (right) greets his predeccessor, Matthew Samuda.

Stephen Edwards, the recently elected president of Generation 2000 (G2K), the young professionals arm of the Jamaica Labour Party, is vowing to leave a positive mark on the almost 20-year-old organisation.

According to Edwards, his focus will be on pushing solutions aimed at youth unemployment and removing the roadblocks to starting a business locally.

"Youth unemployment has been a major problem for years. Data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica show youth unemployment between 2012 and 2016 averaged 31.56 per cent, which is above the national average," said Edwards.

He noted that despite the tremendous demand for professionals in Jamaica, many university graduates are unable to secure gainful employment.


Perceived liabilities


Edwards argued that rather than being seen as investments, young graduates without experience are perceived by organisations as liabilities.

"I see one solution to the problem as the introduction of a Professional Experience Internship Programme. This will enable young people to fulfil their requirements for licensure in their respective fields," said Edwards, a civil engineer.

"Thereafter, these young professionals should be encouraged to enter the formal workforce or start their own businesses and provide employment for others," added Edwards.

The G2K president said this programme could be an incubator for licensed young professionals and a vehicle for job creation.

Having been elected to lead G2K last December, Edwards now wants to encourage more young people to enter local politics.

He said while studying in the United States, he was heartened to see many of his peers, from all over the world, already actively involved in the political lives of their countries.

But Edwards noted that many young Jamaicans are not involved in politics because they do not have "a spot at the table".

He argued that G2K is the perfect organisation through which young people could have their voices and ideas heard.

"I was attracted to the G2K because I always saw the members with new ideas and it was a space where young professionals with independent thought could be heard," said Edwards. "Nothing is more satisfying to me than the feeling that I am contributing."

According to Edwards, with the severe voter apathy that now exists in Jamaica, he wants to change the perception about politics by his actions.

Ironically, Edwards was not raised in a home where politics was discussed.

He said he was instead influenced by his immediate predecessors, Delano Seiveright, Floyd Green and Matthew Samuda. Dr David Panton, Dr Ronald Robinson, Dr Christopher Tufton and Warren Newby have also served as G2K presidents.

"I became are of the organisation while studying overseas," the Boston University graduate said, adding that he saw the three as being new and fresh.

So far, Edwards has no regrets about his decision to enter politics, and argued that he should have become involved sooner.

Edwards told our news team that he is hopeful about Jamaica's future because the country has "sober leadership with a steady hand".