IMF: St. Lucia facing high youth unemployment

CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA — While the country has recovered somewhat from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still facing modest growth and a youth unemployment challenge, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF recently published the findings of its 2023 review of economic progress made in St. Lucia over the last year. It conducts similar consultations in countries around the world every year.

jobs in st lucia

Unemployment is high among women and youth.

In its Article IV Consultation report with St. Lucia, the IMF said: “High unemployment, particularly among the youth, requires targeted policies to address deep-rooted social problems and a review of the education programs.

“While improving conditions for private investment will increase labour demand, it may prove insufficient to achieve full employment.

“High unemployment affects different segments of the population facing distinct challenges to employment, especially female workers and youth.”

While several Caribbean countries have seen dramatic improvement in their employment figures since the worst of the pandemic passed, others are still struggling.

Informal employment has remained a serious challenge in many cases, as the pandemic forced many working-age citizens to turn to gig jobs or vendor work to make ends meet after catastrophic losses in formal employment during the pandemic.

St. Lucia’s government recently noted that it is eagerly anticipating the enactment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, which would allow for the free movement of skilled workers across participating Member States.

In a statement, the government described CSME as a much-needed “shot in the arm.”

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    Upskilling needed to boost jobs in St. Lucia

    In its report, the IMF emphasized the need for upskilling to strengthen employability in St. Lucia. This recommendation is not new to the region, which has almost consistently faced skills gap challenges for decades.

    jobs in st lucia

    The IMF recommends upskilling.

    It noted that a low youth employment rate signals a need for the government to:

    • Review education programs to strengthen employability
    • Increase enrollment in technical and vocational education and training to address skill mismatches
    • Reduce transportation costs
    • Review the allocation of government scholarships to skills in high demand, in consultation with employers

    Additionally, the IMF noted that labour participation rates among young St. Lucian women and youth overall could be addressed by “expanding the capacity of child and elderly care.”

    “The recently-created Youth Economy Agency to support youth employment and business development and entrepreneurship with training and guidance could be complemented with social programs that tackle non-economic barriers to employment,” the IMF report suggested.

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