Prepared by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados
From the document:
Overall, the study is conducted within a framework that seeks to promote sustainable employment, especially for youth, guided by the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Key elements of these global agendas which are of relevance to the Region are: creating jobs; social protection; skills for employment and entrepreneurship; and promotion of active participation in the labour market. These elements are mostly encapsulated in the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Goal 8 which seeks to:
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
The motivation for the study is based on the high levels of youth unemployment observed in the Region and the consequences this has for youth and wider socio-economic development. Not only is youth unemployment high
with respect to global levels, it is also significantly higher than adult unemployment. Data indicate that the average youth unemployment rate for countries in the Region with available data was nearly 25%, while the adult rate was
approximately 8%. In addition to this, gender differences in youth employment are also symptomatic of unequal
gender relations in the Region, and not only manifested on an ideological level but also on a material one as well.
The gender difference in youth unemployment is represented by female youth experiencing rates over 30% as opposed to 20% for young males. The consequences for Caribbean development due to this high level of unemployment among such a significant proportion of the population are not just foregone economic growth and a financial expense; there are also social consequences such as poverty and youth risky behaviours and concomitant negative outcomes such as psychological scarring, crime, unplanned pregnancy, and lost future earning capacity.
This study was commissioned by the Economics Department of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).