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Citation Information

Type Conference Paper - Fourth Annual SALISES Conference
Title Human resources development and labour market challenges: Empowering Caribbean youth
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2002
URL http://www.caribank.org/uploads/publications-reports/research/conference-papers/development-strategy​-forum/Empowering Caribbean Youth.pdf
During the decade of the 1990s, the 1994 International Conference on Population and
Development in Cairo, Egypt and the 1995 World Summit on Social Development in
Copenhagen, Denmark were among some of the principal fora reinforcing the need for
Caribbean countries to further their thrust towards embracing social policy concerns. They were
instrumental in advancing a series of recommendations that have informed initiatives that
governments ought to embrace in order to demonstrate their commitment to social development
concerns. Such initiatives have been deemed especially important insofar as recent
commentaries have conjured up images of a "social mess" that has been an emergent
phenomenon in institutional settings characterizing the Caribbean landscape. This means that
the region's governments have to make serious commitments toward identifying the myriad
forces that interact to create such a "mess" and as such, strengthen their resolve to implement
programmes that should be carefully monitored and evaluated to ensure that they bring about
the desired effects. Ultimately, the primary focus will be the promotion of the well being of
vulnerable sub-populations, whether they be the elderly, the physically challenged, the youth or
the myriad groups of individuals who live in conditions tantamount to poverty. In addressing the
needs of these sub-populations, considerable emphasis ought to be placed upon improving their
living conditions and promoting greater access to social and economic opportunities. All of this
will rely upon a sociological imagination that is reflected in the thought processes and
commentaries of researchers, scholars and informed elements from the mass public
Throughout the 1990s, these vulnerable sub-populations have confronted numerous challenges
that have not only been functions of individuals' social attributes and associated lifetime
experiences. They have also encountered challenges that will determine their prospective life
chances and those of their dependents. These challenges, if not counteracted, could create
imbalances in access to opportunities and inequities in the distribution of national wealth. As
one attempts to grapple with the idea of institutional challenges in the context of a given
country, a number of critical concerns come to the fore. Insofar as sub-populations are
differentiated on the basis of a number of socio-demographic attributes, it might be worthwhile
to explore the existence of institutional challenges in relation to individuals' socio-demographic
attributes. Where institutional challenges are evident, a principal concern should be to
determine variations in resistance across individuals' attributes, primarily those of a socio-3
demographic nature and perhaps, the attitudinal and behavioural orientations that might be
linked to different socio-demographic profile. Moreover, variations in resistance across
individuals can be seen as a function of criteria that empower them and enable them to
overcome or at the very least, combat threats posed by institutional challenges.
This paper recognizes the labour market as an institutional framework that is faced with a
number of challenges that have differential effects upon different sub-populations in Englishspeaking
Caribbean societies. It considers the region's youth to be a critical sub-population with
needs and aspirations that should be carefully understood and met, or where necessary, altered
so as to promote congruence with national goals for social development. The paper rests upon
the premise that the economic viability of the region hinges upon the sustainability and
effectiveness of efforts that adequately facilitate the social development of youth and integrate
them into developmental initiatives that are cognizant of domestic and global forces. Human
resource development is an integral dimension of social development among youth and this is
not only attained through exposure to quality education and training within formal settings. It is
also accessed through informal mechanisms and in particular through participation in workrelated
activities that provide young people with experiential exposure to productive enterprise
thereby shaping the nature and scope of their prospective engagement in the labour force. The
paper uses data from several sources to throw light upon the situation of contemporary
Caribbean youth but with particular respect to issues that impact upon their human resource
development and incorporation in the labour market.

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