***Closing the Skills Gap and Promoting Employment Opportunities for Youth in The Bahamas***

The Inter-American Development Bank, the National Development Plan Unit within the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Labour and National Insurance, and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce have organized a workshop TransFormation: Skills for Productivity– Closing the Skills Gap and Promoting Employment Opportunities for the Youth in The Bahamas. The objective: to identify elements that should be taken into consideration to strengthen and consolidate the skills for work system and to make the country’s human capital an asset that will drive it towards a new stage of development.

This event, taking place today and tomorrow at the British Colonial Hilton, has brought together decision makers from the Government of The Bahamas (Office of the Prime Minister), Ministry of Labour and National Insurance, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture, Ministry of Finance), high level leaders from the private sector, and national and international experts in the area of skills development systems and workplace training.

In addition to the IDB the seminar has the support of the governments of Australia, South Korea, and several countries in the European Union. The objective is to create a space for dialogue on the topic of skills for work between key stakeholders of the skills building systems and to exchange experiences on the challenges and opportunities that policies and programs in the skills for work arena face. Experts will share relevant practices to strengthen the skills building system in The Bahamas in order to close the existing skills gap in the country, combat its high level of youth unemployment, and improve its productivity overall.

This initiative directly responds to The Bahamas’ economic development strategy, as evidenced in the State of the Nation Report and the National Development Plan that are in the process of being developed by the Bahamas Government. This strategy expresses the urgency of placing the topic of skills building at the forefront of the national development agenda such that the training system in the country can adapt to the current and future needs of the labour market.

Speaking at the forum today, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, said. *“Reducing unemployment throughout The Bahamas, especially among our youth, is essential to achieving a Stronger Bahamas, which is something we all want no matter our politics or circumstances. Our work here today must therefore aim to address the factors and identify the policies and initiatives that impact the future of young persons as they transition from school into the economy, and as they transition from adolescence into full maturity as productive members of Bahamian society.”*

The Prime Minister pointed out that young people between the ages of 15 to 24 make up about 16% of the Bahamian population. *“These youth are at a critical stage of their development – , a time when their character is being cemented; a time when their strengths are being developed and when their life goals are taking definite shape. It should also be an exciting time for them, full of hope and possibilities, a time for dreaming about how they can be engaged in building a Stronger Bahamas.” *

##The IDB wants to be part of the solution##

Closing the skills gap is not an exclusive challenge of the region. Many countries all over the world have pursued innovative solutions, in many cases with excellent results. Through [“TransFormation: Skills for Productivity”](http://habilidadesyproductividad.org/en/), the IDB, in a joint effort with strategic stakeholders at the international level, wishes to share the best global experiences, with the aim of learning the most useful aspects from each of them. It’s not a matter of copying, but rather of adapting successful elements from existing models to the needs and peculiarities of each country. With this in mind, the IDB provides background studies for each country, and the support required for these transformation processes. Previous forums included countries from the Latin American and Caribbean region, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Panama.

Click [here](http://habilidadesyproductividad.org/en/audios-event-bahamas/) for details on the event in The Bahamas.