Thu | Feb 27, 2020

CDB pushing TVET lending

Published:Wednesday | January 22, 2020 | 12:28 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Monica La Bennett, vice-president of operations at the Caribbean Development Bank.
Monica La Bennett, vice-president of operations at the Caribbean Development Bank.

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad:

With youth unemployment still a major social concern facing the region, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has strategically been lending money to countries to set up technical and vocational education and training (TVET) centres in an effort to build workforce capacity.

The average unemployment rate across Latin America and the Caribbean stood at approximately 17.9 per cent in 2018, according to the International Labour Organization.

CDB Vice-President of Operations Monica La Bennett said that TVET offered opportunities for people to be self-employed.

“Education and training is a huge focus for the bank, and it is a place where we can intervene. We can work with countries and say, ‘Let us look at TVET because TVET addresses directly some of the issues of youth unemployment and youth employability’.

“If you can provide youth with skills, they could either go and get a job or do something for themselves, then that moves the needle,” La Bennett said, citing Belize as one such country that is already benefiting from that investment.

The vice-president said that this was part of the bank’s strategic plan.

“We are going to lend countries for investments in particular activities. Because of our position, because we are sitting across the region and seeing that similar challenges across all our countries we can use our position to sort of influence the design of projects that countries implement,” La Bennett said, while speaking to The Gleaner yesterday at the 6th Biennial Caribbean Youth Leadership Summit in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

The vice-president of operations hastened to point out, however, that countries do not have to accept the bank’s loan. Regional states would have to conclude, she said, whether TVET borrowing was in alignment with their prioritisation of Sustainable Development Goals.

“Remember, the countries themselves know what they want to do. And whatever we do, we are supporting what the country wants,” said La Bennett.

“We are not in a position to dictate that this is what you must do.”