The Government’s work-experience programme has been used as an election tool over many years, charges Samuel James, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Free Trade Union. CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP FOR NEWS UPDATES.
Many young people lack the skills required by employers. Hence, the initiative – commonly called “the job programme” – was intended to provide a short training stint to help them qualify for permanent employment.
However, many of these persons end up spending years on the programme with no opportunity for upward mobility.
James notes the Cabinet’s recent declaration that these individuals will be granted permanent employment ahead of the upcoming general elections.
The Union President says this decision could have been taken four years ago, but the Administration prefers to continue using the young people.
Many young people were attached to the training programme by their parliamentary representatives. It is commonly felt that this will create in them an obligation to vote for the political candidate who provided the opportunity for them to “work.”
Critics have said the programme amounts to a warehousing of unskilled and dependent constituents who are easily exploited by Antigua Labour Party politicians.