Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde presents the 2018 Youth Hero Award (male) to Alan Farmer.
‘Building blocks’ to start soon
MINISTER of Youth and Community Empowerment, Adrian Forde has given the assurance that government’s Building Blocks programme will start within a couple of weeks, giving the “guys on the block” an opportunity to become entrepreneurs, or as he termed them “blockpreneurs”.
His comments came during the 2019 Annual General Meeting and Youth Hero Awards of the Barbados Youth Development Council (BYDC), held at United Nations House on Saturday night.
He reminded that the programme, which was officially launched last July, is being developed as a means to provide a comprehensive community-based social intervention strategy to address the problems of unemployment and incidents of crime and violence.
Saying that blocks do not exist in silos but within our communities, he said efforts to break them up proved to be futile, adding that there is a need to transform and build them out in a way that young people could be given the skill-sets and training to become productive and responsible business persons in Barbados.
He noted that a component of the programme includes beautifying structures, adding that a holistic approach must be taken that includes the entire community.
Minister Forde stressed that Barbadians are a resilient people and therefore investing in the human resource of the country is essential. “If we do the right things Barbados can not only take itself out of the economic morass, but the social morass.”
He once again lamented the level of youth disengagement that exists in the country, highlighting the worrying statistic that approximately 30 per cent of young people in this country are unemployed. “This figure should never be,” he said. He said it recognises that 70 per cent of young school-leavers between 17 and 21 have a burning desire to be entrepreneurs. “We are seeing we have to make our programmes target specific.”
“Young people of this country are the most important cog in the development of this country. If we get it wrong at this stage then Barbados will be Barbados no more … We must engage young people. We must have fit for purpose programmes and special training programmes were young people become employable.”
During his presentation, the Minister expressed concern about the popular local video called “Badness” found YouTube. “What came across most dreadful is the fact that guys of the block said they were going to change the name of Barbados. It is going to be called Barbada**. I am saying today Barbados will never be called Barbada**. Because we know our country and we know that Barbados be only be the Mecca, not only of the Caribbean but the world.”
He used the opportunity to commend the BYDC for their ongoing work, adding that young persons must be encouraged to be a part of these youth organisations. “We don’t know it all and we cannot do it all. We have to get the resource information from the young people of this country. You have to tell us what you want and we have to provide that listening ear. It is the only way,” he said. (JH)