Deserving Solomon Islands youth

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DEAR EDITOR, later this month, 27 year old Millicent Barty will be travelling to London where she will receive HM The Queen’s Young Leaders Award in recognition of the fine work she has done to educate and empower young and under-privileged people throughout the country.

Millicent will be the fourth young Solomon Islander that I am aware of in recent years to be been honoured by such a prestigious award and deservedly so.

Last week in Honiara during a workshop under the auspices of the UNDIP more than 60 young people told the UNDIP organiser that they wanted to be part of the solution to the problem of corruption and not to be seen as the problem.

In the wider sense, I truly believe the vast majority of young people in the Solomon Islands want to have a voice and to contribute to society in the best possible way, as exemplified by young Millicent and the previous awardees of the Queen’s Award.

In the past few days one has read of the alleged criminal activities of some youths in both Honiara and in Kirakira but with the lack of unemployment opportunities throughout the country and especially in the rural areas, it has to be accepted that some young people will go astray.   I am not defending what it has been alleged they have done but merely once again making my point that youth unemployment is a primary factor in unlawful activities.

Youth@ Work programmes have assisted many young people with “job experience” and promoted entrepreneurship but I concern myself, greatly, that those Youth @ Work graduates, however deserving, are not yet finding work.

As I write, as part of its vision for a vibrant private sector, leading to better lives for the people of Solomon Islands, the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) foresees the importance of encouraging young people to take up entrepreneurship and be part of this vision going forward into the future.

I really do hope the initiative being driven by the SICCI will have the outcomes anticipated.

For many years I have written about the need for job creation, and job opportunities for young people, but my hopes have been dashed so many times and today I understand the overall unemployment rate is around 35 percent.

The Prime Minister has talked about lessening international aid and promoting trade and I fully support such ideals.

I truly wish that one or more of Solomon Islands current aid partners would do the same as I have often mentioned about what I have experienced here in Thailand.

At Bangpoo in the Eastern sector of Bangkok, there operates a successful electronics switch gear factory under the management of Taiwanese managers.

The factory employs, on a three shift system, more than 10 thousand young people in its operations and satisfies the job needs of whole communities while allowing for export products to international markets.

Yours sincerely

FRANK SHORT

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