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While a new secondary school was opened in Union Island last year, Southern Grenadines MP Terrance Ollivierre says many youth lack the skills necessary for employment.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Many young people in the Southern Grenadines do not have the skills to make them employable, according to Member of Parliament for that constituency, Terrance Ollivierre, who said the education system have failed the youth.

“And if we are really concerned about our young people … just taking them and putting them into a school, they are not really learning any trade or whatever skill there is,” the opposition legislator said Wednesday on his New Democratic Party’s programme on Nice Radio.

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“Because, if we say we are embarking on tourism development, where is the hospitality school? Where is the hotel school? What are we doing to equip our people with the skills to do the jobs?” the opposition legislator said.

He said Caribbean nationals and citizens of countries as far away as the Philippines “are coming here and they are ones who are doing the jobs and our young people are left on the block. So, something needs to be done.”

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Ollivierre said it is “incumbent on the government to take care of its nationals and provide the means for them to succeed.

“I think it is more than time that we have the necessary skills training programme,” he further said.

Ollivierre said officials don’t have to wait until a training school is operational.

“… we can do certain things before that in certain areas to provide our people with the skills that are necessary for them to be employed.

“Because, when you have a number of students leave school with two or three subjects and without the skills to be employed — I know in the Southern Grenadines some of the people who work at hotels and restaurants and so forth, the establishment trains them.

“These people train them for themselves and it is time that something is put in place for our young people to be better equipped to be able to really get the jobs that are available in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

terrance ollivierre 2
MP for the Southern Grenadines, Terrance Ollivierre.

Ollivierre said other Caribbean nations are ahead of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in issuing their nationals Caribbean Community skills certificate, which will make them employable across the region.

He said he raised the issue during the budget debate in January and there have been several newspaper articles in which skilled nationals complained that we are behind in certification

“And because they are not certified, they are not able to get the sort of jobs that they should while other people form without the region, they are coming here, they are certified and they are getting the job.

Ollivierre further said students from Canouan and Mayreau, where there are no secondary schools, face special challenges in getting secondary education in St. Vincent and Union Island.

He said some students have had to change host families as many as four times a year.

“You have a situation where the cost is very high, no subvention, and nothing is being given in order to help these students succeed and quite a number of them … have dropped out of school, even Grammar School and Girls’ High School, even school like that that we call elite,” he said.

Ollivierre said the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party administration had said it was not feasible to construct a secondary school in Canouan, even one up to Form 3, as he had suggested.

The government last August opened the new Union Island Secondary School, which replaced the one in Ashton. It was cost $13 million build and is designed to accommodate 420 students.