Created: June 3, 2022 08:00

Jason Hayward, Minister of Economy and Labor (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Nearly one in three young Bermudian adults are unemployed, the government admitted yesterday.

However, in launching the National Youth Jobs Strategy, which aims to tackle the problem, Jason Hayward, Minister of Economy and Labour, dismissed suggestions that the figure represented a failure of successive progressive governments in the Labour Party.

Asked about unemployment levels for young people aged 18 to 26, the minister said: ‘The latest official figures would have been around 30%’. He said the overall unemployment rate was 7%.

Asked whether such a high level of youth unemployment represented a lack of attention from the PLP, Mr Hayward said: “No, it is somewhat natural for this particular demographic group, where youth unemployment in the world is somewhat around this level.

“What this tells us is that there is still work to be done to reduce the barriers.”

Mr. Hayward’s claims seem at odds with other levels of youth unemployment.

The latest figures for Britain show unemployment for 16-24 year olds between January and March 2022 was 10.6%, down from 13.7% a year earlier.

For the European Union, the figure was 14.8%.

Mr Hayward said one of the main reasons for these high levels of youth unemployment was the “lack of job opportunities”.

The Minister said: “As highlighted in the 2021 Speech from the Throne and the Economic Recovery Plan, the Government is committed to tackling youth unemployment by facilitating educational opportunities and pathways for all young Bermudians aged 18 to 26 years old. of age.”

Mr Hayward outlined a nine-point plan to tackle the problem and said that “a large number of educated, job-seeking Bermudians have yet to find employment”.

He added: “The most common reasons for youth unemployment include lack of employment opportunities for young people, lack of experience required by employers, limited access to resources, lack of opportunities for less experienced job seekers, uncertainty of career choice and qualifications and skills. sets that do not meet the needs of employers.

Nine elements of the National Youth Employment Strategy

• Ensure that young Bermudians are qualified to take advantage of employment opportunities by increasing training opportunities

• Expand career support services

• Push Steam subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math)

• Provide relevant work experience and learnings

• Increase access to information and career opportunities

• Encourage the development of future business owners by supporting youth entrepreneurship

• Helping vulnerable young people

• Improving social protections

• Encourage young Bermudians to return home

Mr Hayward said: “Over the past few decades, many Bermudians have emigrated to other parts of the world in search of job opportunities.

“We can and must minimize the number of local departures.

“This government remains committed to providing opportunities for young Bermudians so they can develop their ability and desire to step out and lead our country into the future.”

Asked how any reduction in youth unemployment would be monitored and assessed, Mr Hayward said: ‘What we will do is continue to monitor the Labor Force Survey statistics and data from the employment survey. He said the survey was done every year.

“What we are aiming for is to build better relationships with our young people who are off the island and studying abroad so that we can also track and monitor their performance in terms of their pursuit in the world of work.”

One Bermuda Alliance Senator Jarion Richardson (photo provided).

The One Bermuda Alliance said high levels of youth unemployment showed the country was heading in the wrong direction.

Shadow Labor Minister Jarion Richardson said the figures show how weak the economy is.

“Youth unemployment is a clear sign that the country is heading in the wrong direction.

“It just means that our economy is so weak that even the hope and vigor of youth is wasted.

“How is a young person supposed to believe in Bermuda, help build Bermuda and aspire to lead Bermuda if they cannot invest their energy in Bermuda?

“Paying and meaningful employment is essential for healthy communities and families. Without it, we attract even more trouble than we find ourselves in today.