OBA leader Craig Cannonier, left, introduced Constituency 24 candidate Alexis Swan as she spoke about youth unemployment. *File photos
OBA leader Craig Cannonier, left, introduced Constituency 24 candidate Alexis Swan as she spoke about youth unemployment. *File photos

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 21:

Youth unemployment press conference
Introductory remarks by Craig Cannonier, Leader, One Bermuda Alliance

Good morning Bermuda.

Our goal in the One Bermuda Alliance is to make this Island work better for Bermudians – to build a society based on social and economic equity leaving no one behind.

It’s not working today for thousands.

And if we don’t get a grip on the situation soon, we are going to be the first generation to leave our children a Bermuda that’s worse than the one we were given.

This election is your opportunity to make sure that does not happen.

Our goal must be to pass on a Bermuda better than the one we received.

But to do that we need to face facts.

This government runs from the facts… but we see it as our duty to put them before you.

We have to understand reality in order to develop solutions that can get this Island working better for you.

This week we will hold a series of short press conference to address the serious challenges facing young Bermudians.

I have asked three of our fine new candidates to speak to these issues

They are:

Alexis Swan, our candidate in Warwick South East, Constituency 24 Nandi Davis, our candidate in St. George’s West, Constituency 2, and Andrew Simons, our candidate in Pembroke Central, Constituency 17.

I’d like to kick off this series with Alexis, who will address youth unemployment.

Alexis…

 

Remarks on young Bermudians and unemployment
By Alexis Swan, One Bermuda candidate, Constituency 24, November 20, 2012

Thank you Craig, I got involved in politics because I want to change Bermuda for the better.  With safe streets, great schools and an economy that grows jobs and career opportunities for my family, my peers, my neighbours … for everyone.

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.

  • Unemployment among young Bermudians has doubled since 2009
  • Nearly 4 in 10 are now out of work
  • Young Bermudians have suffered the largest decline in workforce participation of any other age group, with more than 1,200 dropping off the rolls since 2009.
  • On average, a young Bermudian today is earning 27% less than he or she did two years ago – from a medium income of $34,500 to $25,300. That a drop of nearly $10,000 each.
  • Finally, young Bermudians are experiencing the highest rate of under-employment, meaning they are earning less or cannot find enough work to keep them busy full-time.

These facts are being lived by many of my peers, and I am here to tell you today that they are angry, they are frustrated; many see a future they don’t like and many are losing hope,.

They have lost faith in the Government to do much of 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.

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 doors. 

The bottom is literally dropping out from under my generation.  And the Government, which has so much potential to help, has failed them.

Part of that failure comes from 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.

I have been a member of the One Bermuda Alliance almost from the start – first as the chairman of its youth wing, the Future Bermuda Alliance, and now, for nearly a year, as its candidate for Warwick South East, and I can tell you the OBA is ready to get Bermuda working again.

Bob Richards and his economic team have been the ones telling the truth about Bermuda’s economy, not the Government.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Cannonier previewed the party’s plans and this morning I want to draw attention to two items that will help young Bermudians 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.

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.

Thank you.