Wuite on Gibbes: “26% Youth Unemployment is “Nuts”’


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — At Oral Gibbes’”Speaking of Everything” show DP No#3 Jorien Wuite was highly critical of the current situation of youth unemployment on Sint Maarten. Stressing the need for rapid expansion of their possibilities on island, she called the current percentage of 26% youth unemployment “nuts”.

“We are in a highly competitive region. We need to reinforce what we have as well as need to think out of the box” According to the former Secretary-General, that has to happen now: “There is no room for complacency anymore, and it’s time to get out of our comfort zone. A lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs, for example in fashion and performing arts, are easily gained”.

Asked by host Oral Gibbes about youth unemployment, Wuite stated that the high percentage of youth unemployment has bothered her for a long time. The DP  believes for a long time that research is to be done into the roots of this problem. According to Wuite Sint Maarten needs a mixed strategy of education and economy. “We need reinforcement  and access to tertiary education, but that buys a Sint Maartener nothing if we have no jobs to put that education to work. “ Jobs matter too in regaining the brain gain generation. Next to job provision, Wuite knows housing to be a second challenge to that group. ”Affordable housing opportunities are very limited. We need them in general, but as well for returning professional Sint Maarteners it is one of the keys of a good start back on island”.

As Gibbes asked her for her motivation to step from Secretary General of Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports into politics, she stated societal drive was key. “The parliament we have created in the past six years had a low performance. What we need is parliamentarians with knowledge about the subjects they talk about, skills and expertise,  and taking up action themselves like of our own MP Sarah Wescot Williams “ Once in parliament, Wuite’s wants to address her key challenge of Youth Employment using exactly those instruments she knows so well from her past experience as Secretary General. In her opinion, her knowledge of the legislative process can speed up the process.

“For a new government, there is a large amount of instruments to get  both education the economy going. We need not only to build on existing institutions like USM and NIPA and small business foundations, but reinforce them”  “We can use financial and tax incentives for development of both small business as well as education purposes.

We need to reinforce life long learning throughout all organizations. Keeping teaching young business professionals, will boost the businesses they are involved in. Professionals shouldn’t get stuck in one function for five years. I believe in upward mobility. This is the possibility I had, by starting from a management position at the ministry of Health, Social Security and Labor, towards my last function as Secretary General there and at Education, Culture, Youth and Sports.”

If it’s up to the third candidate on the DP slate, that economy needs to change. “We need to diversify the economy, whilst not losing an eye on tourism. We live in a highly competitive region so we need to be inventive”. Wuite’s key ambition when chosen is getting the framework right for the economy to flourish.” Overall, good governance, stability and transparency are key.” She stated it requires an open and broad process to get the economy going. “New laws will require team work, uniting insights and experience. We need to involve business sectors, social partners and government  to find the best incentives to strengthen economy and make it grow again.”

Requested  by Gibbes whether Wuite encountered poverty, she appeared touched. “Within my normal social life, I of course know people living in very difficult circumstances. Take for example elderly who can’t keep up with the high cost of living, only having a small pension, not having an AOV or complementary pension from their former employer. Take younger generations, who our under enormous financial pressure due to limited opportunities. If we want to move forward, we can not leave anybody behind. It is the new government’s task to focus on what groups are in the risk zone“

She sees involving youth in the political process as the biggest challenge of all. “I see younger generations distrusting government. I understand that and care to change this around.”