WITH about a month to go before Christmas Day, many Saint Lucians are hoping that the season does turn out to be a festive one. All year long, it has been a tough challenge for people to manage their affairs, whether employed or not.
Recent statistics released by the Ministry of Finance indicate that unemployment figures fell to 21.4% in the third quarter of 2016, compared to 22.1% in the first quarter. That 0.7% decrease in unemployment over such a period might well seem a positive development as far as figures are concerned but the hard truth is that too many people remain unemployed.
Many unemployed Saint Lucians often admit that three periods in the year hit them the hardest: the beginning, around the reopening of the new school year, and at Christmastime. This does not negate the reality that even the employed face a daily challenge of balancing their budgets to stay afloat.
While the government seems to be making some inroads in attracting long-term investments to provide employment for citizens , it would serve the people’s best interest if short-term measures are at least being mulled — or even better, implemented – to ameliorate the unemployment nightmare many citizens have to sleep through each night.
Granted that there are some major investments in the pipeline, including the Desert Star Holdings project and the rehabilitation of some hotel plants, there must be some measure of jobs being created in other areas to bring relief to the many idle hands anxious for work.
Aside from the government, however, the private sector needs to play an even greater role especially this festive season by coming up with creative ways to employ as many people as possible. This could be done either through short shifts or extended hours so that as many people get a share of that proverbial pie.
Also, companies need to become less stringent on their modalities for employing people whose only fault might be lack of experience. Too many young people are turning to apathy, selling their dignity and crime because they are being turned away for not having the skills needed, skills they might have learned on the job, anyway.
There must come a time when addressing the issue of unemployment goes past the cliché of it being too high. What needs to be done is that those who do have jobs empower those who do not have one to get one. Equally important, too, is that those who already have jobs need to recognize that having a job is as priceless as life itself and should not be treated indiscriminately.