‘Angry, frustrated and many are losing hope’
Young people earn nearly $10,000 less than they did just two years ago, according to the One Bermuda Alliance.
OBA candidate Alexis Swan gave the statistics at a press conference this morning at the party’s Reid Street headquarters, flanked by leader Craig Cannonier, OBA finance spokesman Bob Richards and two of the party’s younger candidates, Nandi Davis and Andrew Simons.
The 24-year-old speaker said she was an early member of the party and chairman of its youth wing before becoming a candidate.
She said her peers are “angry, they are frustrated; many are seeing a future they don’t like and many are losing hope”.
She also said more than 1,200 young Bermudians have dropped “off the rolls” since 2009, and that the youth unemployment figure was four in ten. In addition, Bermuda’s youth were suffering the highest level of underemployment.
Expanding on her statement that youth earning power has dropped nearly $10,000 in two years the figures for which come from the 2012 Labour Force Survey that was released last month translated from an average income of $34,500 to $25,300. “Young Bermudians are (also) experiencing the highest rate of underemployment, meaning they are earning less or cannot find enough work to keep them busy full-time.”
She pointed to two OBA policies that she said would help young people get jobs.
“The first is the plan to give employers a payroll tax exemption for every new Bermudian they hire.
“And the second is the plan to crack down on employers who abuse immigration rules. This is an area which can open up significant job opportunities. It is long past due,” she said.
Ms Swan, who is running in constituency 24, said: “The bottom is literally dropping out from under my generation. And the Government, which has so much potential to help, has failed them.”
OBA leader Craig Cannonier opened the conference with the warning: “. . . if we don’t get a grip on the situation soon, then we are going to be the first generation to leave our children a Bermuda that’s worse than the one we were given.”
He said: “Our goal in the One Bermuda Alliance is to make this Island work better for the people to build a society based on social and economic equity, leaving no one behind.
“It’s not working today for thousands.”
Ms Swan took the podium and said: “I believe we can build the better society that Craig talked about where we can achieve social and economic equity for all. But to get there we have to face facts. And the facts surrounding young Bermudians today are not good.”
Ms Swan said young people have lost faith in the Government to do anything to help them. “And they have good reason: in 2007, the Government promised to provide young Bermudians with ‘full economic participation in the land of their birth.’ That clearly has not happened,” she said.
“But the disappointments did not end with that broken promise. Young Bermudians have watched the steady disappearance of jobs that are open to them whether in the tourism business or entry-level office jobs. And this summer they saw summer jobs programmes cut. No one is immune. I have spoken with college graduates who have returned with degrees but can’t find a job, and high school graduates who can’t even get in the door.
“The bottom is literally dropping out from under my generation. And the Government, which has so much potential to help, has failed them.”
She said the Government is “not being straight with us. We’ve been told Bermuda is on ‘the road to recovery’, that we’re in a ‘post-recessionary climate’, and that ‘the economic recovery has begun.’ Statements like that, which are so at odds with the reality on the street, cause people to lose faith.
“What Bermuda needs is a government that cares; a government that is open to ideas and not afraid to face the facts.”
Ms Scott has been campaigning for nearly a year in Warwick South East, and she said: “I can tell you the OBA is ready to get Bermuda working again.”
“The Throne Speech two weeks ago was the Government’s chance to tell Bermuda how it was going to get people working again. But it said nothing on the issue. Not having a jobs plan in the midst of an unemployment crisis is not what the people of my generation need. It’s not acceptable.
“Young Bermudians can’t afford another five years of rising unemployment and do-nothing government. It’s time for change. Our future depends on it,” she said.
In a statement the PLP said: "The OBA fails to mention real results that the PLP has delivered for our young people. Over the last several months, we've stood strong for our young people by providing job training for hundreds of our people.
"We are the party that delivered the DryWall programme which trained and placed dozens of Bermudians in jobs. We are the party that delivered training for hundreds of Nail Technicians, the Waiters and Servers, Landscapers programme, IT professionals and accountants. We more than doubled the college and graduate level scholarships for our young people.
"We've provided Bermudians with a ten point plan for economic growth and recovery. This plan includes Job Corps Bermuda. Job Corps Bermuda is a programme that will start early next year and target those 18-24 year olds who need job training and placement services.
"We are introducing the One Stop Career Centre which will help our young people with job training and placement services.
"The OBA can talk the talk, but, this commitment to job training shows that we have both a record of training our people as well as a vision for economic growth and recovery."