Joshua Charles

Young people in several parts of the Chaguanas East Constituency are pleading for support to reach their goals and create jobs to help them become independent and respected.

Even before COVID-19, maintaining business and jobs were described as an uphill battle for some due to several factors–crime and traffic among them. Along the Montrose Main Road as well as the Southern Main Road most of the businesses are small to medium and since the pandemic, they have had to lay off staff or scale back operations.

This dynamic makes a bad situation even worse for young people who were already struggling to find employment.

Take Joshua Charles, 21, for example. He lives at Dass Trace Extension. Finding work is hard.

He loves football and has dreams of one day becoming a coach but the financial path to that seems non-existent at this point.

“Right now I not working anywhere so I don’t have a job or money coming in to take schools or lessons or classes to further myself in that area.”

He said it was not for a lack of trying, but somehow he and others like him are met with blockages.

“Sometimes it is about who you know too and if you don’t know anybody then you end up with the wrong end of the stick.”

Charles has four subjects but he still has had to “hustle” to get by and it has always been like that for him

“Since I came out of school I never had a steady job.”

He said all that has been made available to him were contract positions and those are seldom renewed.

The reality is sometimes just getting the job is hard due to his address.

“When I say I living Dass Trace you notice a difference because they say this is the ghetto, so they look at us like less and just like that our opportunity is gone already.”

He explained that this happens to many of the youth in his community.

“A lot of youth men in the back here not working or trying to do a little small hustle for themselves because is the same thing I go through. I am friends with plenty of them and we sit down and talk about it sometimes.”

To his recollection, in the last few years, there was one job fair at neighbouring Homeland Gardens. But for him, that was simply not good enough to correct such a big problem.

“I would just say we don’t need anything but more support. Just more support to show that you are actually trying…At least give us an opportunity and it is up to us to take that opportunity, but if you not putting it there is no opportunity for us.”

He suggested that those in authority meet the youth “halfway” and one way of doing that is by seeking out businesses hiring and getting that information to them.

Charles maintained that many of his peers are not who people think they are.

“I know these fellas good, hardworking and willing but sometimes you just need a little push.”

The problem with business and job opportunities has gotten the attention of the Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce. Guardian Media was told that workshops and other events are being planned in order to help people become more employable or entrepreneurs.