There are several key areas that need a major change in policy to help find careers for the youth. A lesson from history and the lessons from other countries might help.
After the devastating effects of World War II in 1946, England was bankrupt and had lost over 450,000 soldiers and civilians in the previous five years. Its economy survived only due to the lend lease assistance of the United States, who provided tanks, soldiers, aircraft and fighting vessels, as well as food.
Food was brought on convoys of 30 or more cargo ships escorted by destroyers, and yet 30 percent were sunk with over 50 percent of their crews drowned, before the rest arrived in northern ports of Ireland and Scotland. England repaid the lease payments over nearly 50 years to the United States.
The Bahamians signed up to fight in this war, and some lost their lives. Those who returned had learnt trades and a new way of life, and new disciplines.
I myself was eight years old in 1946 just starting boarding school at an all-boys school. This led to another boarding school until I was 19.
In 1957, military service was compulsory and known as national service. Did I benefit from this? Of course I did. I even played cricket for my regiment in the Royal Artillery, where I used my mathematical skills to point the guns in the right direction.
Remember, no TV, no computers, no girls, no alcohol, except at the odd weekend leave. All this in the UK during the long depression after the war. I slept in barracks rooms headed by a junior officer; attended church in my uniform every Sunday. Learnt to eat whatever food was given to me. I was paid a small sum, not more than pocket money, to buy a train or bus ticket, and a cinema ticket when on weekend leave once a month.
Fast forward to today in The Bahamas.
We do have a sort of national service in the form of free education at remand schools, BTVI, and enrollment in the defense force, the police and other government departments, such as immigration, the post office, the airport, customs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, just to mention a few. Government employs a large number of the employed persons, and who knows how many foreigners are employed by government.
We do need technical expertise, professional skills, but our education system cannot provide the required education and experience. There are many jobs advertised, yet no one qualified to take them. This includes nursing.
Private business has the same needs as government. What are those needs?
ORG (Organization for Responsible Government) sent out a survey to all new businesses to find out what is needed most. We await the results, but the following must be included: passion to learn job skills; discipline/time-keeping; business ethics.
It is sad when 100 people turn up to apply for a job, or to try to qualify for a scholarship offered by a foreign college or university, to only two applicants.
What are the best solutions? National service.
I suggest a survey, door to door, of all the unemployed who cannot produce an NIB card. The survey should ask each of them: what is your passion, your aim to earn a living? How many jobs have you applied for? What is the reason you were turned down or let go? Would you accept a job as a trainee in any government department or private business training program if you were paid a minimum wage for an eight-hour work day or night?
The options could include BTVI, rehabilitation school. A small salary, uniform and NIB contribution must be paid or included. For example nurses, or marine trainees, in uniform, add the feeling of responsibility and purpose in society. It is a pleasure to see trainee doctors in PMH, for example. Not all jobs need a high school certificate.
We all look up to those who succeed and do the right thing. There must be strong penalties when instructors and regulators fail to do their jobs, however difficult it may be.
Examples of failures are: charities and their boards that do not perform yet receive donations; land owners improper use of land; vehicle and boat owners unlicensed and uninsured; government-owned property misused; public companies directors failing to do their jobs; public failing to report criminal activity; failure to stop illegal dumping of sewage in the harbor by property owners; failure to teach marine skills and develop a marine school and qualify persons for jobs on world shipping, including the cruise liner that come to our shores. (The Cayman Islands is famous for the quality of seamen working all over the world, trained in the Cayman Islands by Caymanians – 1,000 or more of them out of a population of less than 25,000 employed persons).
Every ship coming to our shores must have a minimum percentage of Bahamians working on or for the ship when in port or on a voyage to or from our port. The government has the facility, as it owns the BASRA building and slip.
We need to move forward. At least one prospective foreign investor has told me he is concerned to invest in The Bahamas with the current shootings.
– Concerned Bahamian resident