There is an “unemployable” problem in the country and not an unemployment one, Minister of Labour Errol McLeod has said.
Speaking during the budget debate in Parliament on Friday night McLeod said the country was not the only one where there were many young people who were unemployed but approximately 75 million young people worldwide were unemployed.
He added: “And a large percentage are described as NEETS (Neither in Education, Employment or Training) and that is very worrisome. In our circumstances such persons are persons who largely are unemployable and I know that the Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training, the Minister of Education and to the extent that the Minister of Labour can be involved, are in such planning and strategising.
“They are looking at a number of areas that need to be reorganised and new areas to be developed and some areas that had been abandoned to bring them back if we are going to save our young people in Trinidad and Tobago.
“As it is now, we don’t have a number of skilled people who are available at a call to take up a job anywhere and this is why I emphasise that ours is more of an unemployable situation than an unemployment situation so we need to train.”
McLeod said they rarely got people to train and some of them did not take advantage of what was offered.
“Some of them really are not literate and they go just to collect the stipend and some of them are in two and three programmes at the same time. Programme hoppers we call them, and all of that has to be examined,” he said.
McLeod told the House that last Thursday Cabinet approved a proposal to establish an apprenticeship training programme in the Point Lisas area.
“And discussions are taking place at this time with Petrotrin and one or two other large employers in the economy of Trinidad and Tobago to reengage the apprenticeship training programme,” he said.
McLeod pointed out the programme was more than a craft apprenticeship programme and so the government was not going back to the apprenticeship programme exactly as it was in the past.
“No, no the world has moved on and we will need to examine it and bring a measure of modernity to it. It was part of an overall programme that also provided the government with the opportunity in its own planning programme so that the government will know in the next five years that there are so many trained technicians who will now be employed as journeymen.”