Social Development Minister – Hensley Daniel
November 05, 2009
Deputy Premier and Minister of Social development on Nevis Hon. Hensley Daniel is of the view that the region’s government’s had given too much attention to economic development and too little to social development.
The Minister made the comment at a recent Consultation on the Economy in St. Kitts hosted by the Ministry of Finance. He referred to a World Bank Report which asked of employers throughout the Caribbean whether the Eastern Caribbean system adequately prepared young people for the global economy.
“I want to make the point that all the employers including those in St. Kitts and Nevis, pointed out what they were looking for to join them in their respective institutions and companies and listed a number of things they were looking for. These included: a positive work ethic, ability for problem solving, teamwork, proactivness, honesty, discipline, critical thinking, communication and they termed them Behavioural Life Skills.
“They did not say they were looking for people with CXCs, it’s a strange thing, they are not saying that they are looking for people with O’ Levels and A’ Levels and degrees, they wanted people with these skills,” he said.
He added that it was important that governments worked with their young people to get the Behavioural Life Skills up to a level that would allow them to obtain and sustain employment.
“I think too much attention has been paid to economic development and the assumption that we could arrive at economic development with people without Behavioural Life Skills. I am happy that the report is reminding us that we have to work on shaving off the rough edges of our young people so that they will be able to obtain (a) employment and (b) to maintain employment.
“The Report tells us also that the service sector is growing the most and that we have to pay some attention to how people respond in that sector. Just to bring it home very closely, it says that 88 percent of the employers in St. Kitts and Nevis rated attitude to work as very important. This exemplifies the demand for Behavioural Life Skills among employers,” he said
Mr. Daniel noted that while the governments may have been off course all along, it was clear that they had to get on course and ensure that they brought the social elements of the young people to bear on the decision making.
Notwithstanding, he said he did not believe that the Ministry of Finance could do it alone but it was a situation which necessitated the collective efforts of the church, community and civil society.
The Deputy Premier pointed to the Nevis Island Administration’s (NIA) efforts apart from the many initiatives already in place targeted the issue of values.
“We are going to begin very shortly a programme at the community and school level and it is intended as we are calling it a radical reorganisation of our values. We have to make a distinct and definite change in the way we are going.
“These values will include putting at the fore issues of discipline, respect for self and others, hard work, value for human life, the sanctity of human life and putting in place a programme which trains and teaches our young people there are things which you could do and some things which you don’t do and those things we must not accept,” he said.
Mr. Daniel noted that the programmes would be implemented in tandem with the communities across the island to ensure success. The programme, he explained, would allow for a shift from a thing oriented society to a person oriented one in an effort to time down the anti-social behaviour on the island.