World Bank approves US$3.5 Million to help reduce youth un-employment in St. Lucia

ST. LUCIA – The World Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a US$3.5 million zero-interest credit to increase youth employment in Saint Lucia by providing private sector-driven training.

The OECS Skills for Inclusive Growth Project will improve the knowledge and skills of beneficiaries to help youth transition to the labor market. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Education and the National Skills Development Centre (NSDC). It is the first phase of a regional program that is open to other countries in the region.

“This project will assist the Government of Saint Lucia to improve the competitiveness of the economy by providing youth with the skills, training and know-how sought by employers,” said Caroline Anstey, World Bank Director for the Caribbean. “Better education and training will allow young people to take advantage of the opportunities presented by a globalizing and growing economy.”

Recent economic expansion in the region provides Saint Lucia and other Caribbean countries with an opportunity to broaden the gains to youth. Youth unemployment in Saint Lucia was 39% in 2005 compared to 13% for the workforce as a whole. Recent World Bank data estimates that bringing youth unemployment down to the levels of the whole workforce would increase GDP by 1.3 percent. It would also help to reduce youth crime and violence which is negatively impacting economic

Specifically, the project will support the following activities:

– Increasing the levels of training for unemployed youth through the establishment of a competitive training scheme that finances private sector-driven training. This component will subsidize training of approximately 1,850 unemployed youth and their placement in traineeships with private firms to gain on-the-job experience.

– Developing an improved policy framework for delivering training. This component will enhance OECS collaboration for training to reap the benefits of economies of scale, introducing occupational standards to increase the quality and value of training.

– Strengthening the institutional capacity of the National Skills Development Centre and the Ministry of Education to better implement, monitor, and plan training.

– “Improving provision of a skilled labor force in areas relevant to the economy will enhance investment outcomes,” said Andreas Bloom, World Bank task manager for the project. “Additionally, public- private partnerships such as this showcase how public funds can efficiently leverage private resources.”

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