Program aims to increase the job prospects of unemployed youth and adults, and provide companies with skilled Bahamian workers
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of the Bahamas are partnering in a new jobs initiative to increase workplace skills and improve employability among young people and adults who have had difficulty finding work.
The $50 million initiative, to be financed with government resources and a $25 million loan from the IDB, aims to establish a nation-wide demand-driven apprenticeship program that will combine on and off-the-job training to provide unemployed youth and adults between the ages of 16 and 40 with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. In addition, the program will improve the effectiveness of The Bahamas’ Public Employment Services and will help to coordinate efforts of different Bahamian government agencies involved in collecting data that help monitor the country’s labor market performance.
In 2015, it was reported that 14.8 percent of the Bahamian workforce was unemployed. The unemployment rate for youths ages 15-24 is twice as high, at 30 percent, having doubled since 2001.
At the same time, most employers in The Bahamas report difficulties in finding workers with the right set of skills, noting that the lack of job-specific skills is the most important recruitment obstacle (34 percent), followed by applicants’ lack of experience (29 percent), and lack of soft skills (28 percent). The country also faces the challenge of improving labor productivity, which decreased on average 1 percent annually between 2000 and 2011.
The IDB loan comes from the Bank’s ordinary capital resources, has a 6-1/2-year grace period, a six-year disbursement term, and an interest rate based on LIBOR. It will be complemented by $25 million from the Government of the Bahamas.
The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.
- Christopher Barton