After posting the HTS news report headlined “SLP wants threats against PM investigated” on his Facebook page, outgoing president of the National Youth Council, Timothy Ferdinand, wrote: “Disturbing. But reminds me of the swell in the atmosphere . . . the tsunami of frustration that permeates the air. Our governments in the region need to take this very seriously and quickly embark on a road to the restoration of hope and confidence in the hearts and minds of our youth.
“The CCYD 2010 report did speak to the growing hopelessness among youth and we have surely seen a spike in the rate of suicides and crime . . . again, very disturbing.”
The FB post in question centered around a young guest on Rick Wayne’s TALK who had recalled a conversation with his friends, one of whom said he felt like “killing the prime minister.”
The CCYD report that Ferdinand cited expressed grave concern about the “high levels of anger, hostility, depression, suicide, alienation and hopelessness, in particular among the 15 to 29 age cohort.”
This week I spoke with Ferdinand on the issue. “In light of the mentioned report,” he said, “it comes as no surprise that there is this climate of frustration among young people. Frustration and hopelessness among young people caused by unemployment.”
By Ferdinand’s account a recent World Bank Study (yet to be published) reveals that the unemployment rate for 2014 has risen to 47%.
“That, coupled with the economic situation and the crime rate, does not inspire in any way our young people.”
As an NGO, Ferdinand told the STAR, the NYC has been promoting a climate of entrepreneurship among young people.How ever, even that had its challenges due to lack of funding and the inability to source loans or start-up capital for small businesses.
“Another problem is employability,” Ferdinand says. “We are often unable to access jobs because of inexperience and employers are reluctant for various reasons to invest in training and internship.”
As for the education system, Ferdinand’s interaction with young people island-wide has revealed they consider it is woefully inadequate.
“This is a major issue,” said the NYC president. “Young people normally complain that the education system is not preparing them adequately for the world of work. We also have to consider the negative impact of globalization on jobs. Our youth are not being prepared to meet the demands of the technological age as they relate even to agriculture and tourism.”
Asked about the impact of partisan politics, also a concern of the CCYD, Ferdinand said: “Young people are basically fed up when it comes to politics. When we attend various fora we always end up arguing and discussing the issue of red or yellow. Young people see through the promises in the manifestoes, and the outlandish campaign pledges. The young people we have right now, the young leaders, have experienced past administrations and it is my hope that for the upcoming elections they will be able to make more informed decisions.”
Specific to the comments on last Thursday’s TALK, Ferdinand said: “The first thing I would state clearly to any young frustrated persons is that resorting to violence or harming or threatening another human being is wrong. There are avenues for expressing frustration and that is why you have pressure groups, NGOs and the right to organize peaceful protest.”
I asked: “If you were a leader, how would you handle desperate outbursts by obviously frustrated young people?”
“I am tempted not to comment on that one,” Ferdinand said with a chuckle. “Okay, first of all we must be able to put out the message that young persons should be careful how they express themselves. There has to be respect at all levels. But leadership also has to ensure citizens, especially young citizens, have avenues for free expression, which our Constitution guarantees. There is, too, the matter of human rights and due process. As reports and studies on such issues indicate in this regard, it leaves a lot to be desired.”