A very recent IDB study confirms something most Bahamians already know:- we have managed – by crass neglect -to nix this nation’s development; and so, we now learn that the Inter-American Development Bank has found that The Bahamas is now wallowing in a situation where youth unemployment is perniciously and persistently high and where there is also “a skills gap between labor demand and supply.
That same IDB report added that unemployment among Bahamians aged 25 years-old or less had “tripled during the first decade in the 2000s.
And so, they prescribe more and more investment in skills development.
To the point, then:- The [IDB] survey demonstrates that upgrading both technical and soft skills is key to increasing productivity and competitiveness, adaptation to new technologies, and creating stable work opportunities for Bahamian workers.
In truth and therefore for as long as we can remember, employers and a host of other interested parties have bemoaned the parlous condition of this nation’s educational systems.
As things now stand, we are –as a people- spending more and more on schooling while reaping year in and year out harvests of uncouth youth; thousands of near-illiterates and tens of thousands of youth who are woefully behind in mathematics and basic calculation.
But clearly:- There will be no real change between how most students do in their studies this year and how they did last year. In addition, there will be no real difference in the year to come as regards how most of this nation’s schools perform.
And clearly, the thousands of men and women who work in the nation’s plethora of schools will continue to do versions of the same things they have been doing for all of the years since The Bahamas achieved its so-called ‘independence’ from Her Majesty’s Britannic Government.
Interestingly, there are schools in The Bahamas where student achievement levels are high; where curricula are both challenging and relevant and which do prepare students for both work and further education.
And so, there it goes: – We are being guaranteed the social reproduction of a class-based social order which guarantees social division; which reinforces an unjust status quo and one which – ultimately – can only bring grief to all and sundry.
But yet, such is the power of those who now run things from the shadows that things will – barring some miracle – remain the same.
And so, we can expect more rage, more street-level violence, and more damage to property, more crimes against persons and more and more untimely deaths.
At this juncture, it is anybody’s guess how this sadly tragic story will end.
In the meanwhile, we have on our collective hands a situation where no day passes in this troubled place when there is no report of murder on the hoof; blood on the streets; rape running amok or some other species of god-awful abuse of innocence.
This is clear evidence that some of our churches are failing; that some of our schools are dropping to pieces and that, very many Bahamian families are reeling under the hammer blows inflicted by an economy that cannot reach some of this nation’s least, lost and marginalized.
Here we might note that: – One of the realities of life in a rapidly globalizing world economy has to do with how all factors of production – inclusive of human capital – are on the move.
As Nobel Laureate, Gary Becker so cogently argues: – “…During the past 30 years the market for workers with few skills has been weak pretty much everywhere. The reason is that economies, including developing economies, have increased their demand for knowledge workers at the expense of low skilled workers…”
Becker goes on to show that: – “…Various forces have favored skilled workers during the past several decades; indeed, many of them began much earlier. Technological changes and automation, including the development of computers, the Internet, and electronic controls, have reduced the demand for certain types of skilled workers, such as secretaries and clerical workers.
They have increased the demand for workers who command considerable knowledge, and who know how to access any additional knowledge necessary to perform various tasks. The growth in the stock of complex machinery has also raised the demand for workers who know how to effectively use such machinery…”
It is with this reality we must cope if we are to survive and prosper in an increasingly complex global environment.
Only time will tell if we have what it takes to do what we should; and so, as an uncertain future beckons, we hope and pray that those who lead and those who would lead would do more to fix systems that are in need of urgent overhaul.