Unemployment still key concern for Caricom – LaRocque

Caricom Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque says unemployment and gender bias continue to be key concerns for the Region and urged Heads of Government at the 26th Meeting of the COHSOD to ensure that their development agendas allow all to benefit under the CSME.

The two-day Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Labour and Gender meeting, which started on Wednesday and ended yesterday, comes at a time when at the national level the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and the Beijing Platform are being assessed, the secretary-general said.

“As a Region, we are seeking to define and position CARICOM priorities within the new global framework for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the SIDS Agenda and the Beijing+20 Agenda,” he said, according to the Caricom Secretariat.

Youth unemployment has reached unprecedented proportions globally and the Region is no exception. LaRocque noted that significant unemployment and under employment exist alongside acute skill shortages in some key sectors of the economy. The lack of access by many of the Region’s youth could potentially widen both employment and poverty gaps and this needs to be addressed, he said.

“In addressing this issue, this Council will have to take into account the need to ensure that our human capacity development becomes more relevant to our society’s needs in the context of the priorities established within the Strategic Plan,” he said. “There should also be the recognition of the imperative to engage our youth in ways which will use their innate creativity to contribute to their own development and prospects for employment.”

According to the secretary-general the ease with which this generation has adapted to the digital age along with their creativity, provides opportunities for the youth and a platform for the Region to take advantage of the untapped potential within the Information and Communica-tions Technology (ICT) sector and in the creative industries.  “ICT is opening up new vistas and we need to ensure that the Community is well placed to fulfill the potential it offers for employment and entrepreneurship,” he said.

The COHSOD was also encouraged to ensure the ability of women and men to participate equally and equitably in all aspects of life under the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME). “The recommendations of this Meeting, based on the study on the Gender Impact of the CSME, undertaken under the Canadian-funded CARICOM Trade and Competitiveness Project will be crucial to advancing gender equality in this regard,” the secretary-general said.

He also extended gratitude to the Government of Canada for its support which also includes providing assistance within the Secretariat to deal with gender issues. “The issue of gender equality resonates across the globe and I also wish to acknowledge the role of UN Women in assisting the Community to engage fully in the discussions on that issue at the global, regional and national levels with respect to, in particular, the Post 2015 Development Agenda and the SIDS Agenda,” he said.

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