Public investments, resource allocations, employment programmes and entrepreneurship support highlighted in ILO report
PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO — Some of the initiatives being undertaken in the Caribbean to promote job creation and encourage employment during the COVID-19 pandemic are “noteworthy” and “remarkable” considering the severe impact of the crisis, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) in a newly released report.
“In line with the policy response adopted globally, public investment in the shape of capital spending geared to stimulate job growth was an almost universally adopted measure across the Caribbean during 2021,” the report noted.
While the amounts varied substantially, and some countries relied on public-private partnerships more than others, the ILO said several “distinctive elements” were adopted across the region in this regard.
“First, the mere fact to be able to allocate extra resources — above the historic trend — to this type of expenditure is noteworthy when considering the dire situation of public finances,” the report read.
It added, “Second, COVID-19 response investments (or plans to invest) in key job-generating projects/industries followed a quite homogeneous path across all countries, with the lion’s share being represented by road infrastructure and housing and often earmarked under ‘shovel-ready’ projects.”
In addition to investments, the ILO acknowledged that a “handful of countries” created new employment programmes.
“In Bermuda, the Ministry of Labour introduced a National Re-employment Strategy to provide training, career development and employment opportunities to better position unemployed Bermudians in their transition back into the workforce as we move beyond the pandemic,” read the ILO’s report.
“In Sint Maarten, there are plans to renew the workforce development programme launched in 2020. At the same time, some countries specifically focused on implementation of new institutionalized training programmes (Guyana, Saint Lucia).
“Also relevant are the undertakings by trade unions offering new training opportunities focused on addressing workers’ needs stemming from the evolution of the crisis. The case of Barbados Workers’ Union stands out.”
Furthermore, “virtually all countries of the region” provided support to new entrepreneurs and startups “via national enterprise development agencies”, the ILO noted.
“Among the noteworthy examples of initiatives most specifically linked to the COVID-19 response was the Cayman Islands’ new business incubator, which launched on March 24, 2021. Another remarkable example was observed in Guyana, where attention to the highly impacted youth turned into substantial allocations for training and for stipends for the staff of the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programme and to provide grants under the Youth Innovation Programme,” the report read.
International Labour Organization report, “COVID-19 crisis and policy response in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean. One year after: labour market and social protection responses from January through October 2021” — https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---americas/---ro-lima/---sro-port_of_spain/documents/publication/wcms_823342.pdf