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Youth employment and financial resilience to top agenda of Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Caribbean visit

9 June 2011
Sharma visits Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Jamaica and St Vincent and the Grenadines in official visit to the Caribbean region

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma will lay particular stress on youth employment, underachievement by boys and strengthening economic resilience during his six-day trip to the Caribbean region, 12-17 June 2011.

Mr Sharma is scheduled to visit Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Jamaica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. He will meet Heads of Government, ministers, Speakers and Leaders of the Opposition.

He will also meet representatives of the private sector and young people.

Speaking ahead of his departure Mr Sharma said: “Finding imaginative ways of creating jobs and skills development for the youth is a priority for the Commonwealth. This requires partnership between government and the private sector and the Commonwealth can help build co-operation and collaboration. I’m particularly struck by the positive response in Commonwealth countries to innovative approaches by banks and financial institutions to mainstream youth involvement in the economic life of these countries.

“Mentoring is often what helps young people make themselves more employable or set themselves up independently in professions. Support for youth entrepreneurship not only helps bring opportunities for self-employment, it helps create other new jobs for young people and assets for the society. We need to be alert to the needs both of young men and of young women and help advance their prospects in every possible way.

“My visit is a valuable opportunity to share practical ideas gleaned from some of the work we are already doing. I want to learn more about projects already underway in the Caribbean and to identify the ways in which our Commonwealth partnership can multiply the benefit. We will build on the proposals put forward last month at the Commonwealth Caribbean Conference ‘Investing in Youth Employment’.”

Mr Sharma also commented on opportunities being created by the Commonwealth to strengthen the region’s resilience to natural disasters.  The Commonwealth is working with Caribbean governments in the region to help protect livelihoods and infrastructure from vulnerability to events such as hurricanes.

During the Caribbean visit Mr Sharma will call on Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda; Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica; Bruce Golding, Prime Minister of Jamaica; and Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, to discuss priorities for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which is scheduled to take place in Perth, Australia in October 2011. He will also brief them on progress on mandates from the last leaders’ meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009, such as the Network of Election Management Bodies and the Commonwealth internet gateway, known as ‘Commonwealth Connects’