Kerr slams Duke: Give youths better advice

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Assistant Secretary of Education Orlando Kerr – THA

THA councillor and Assistant Secretary of Education Orlando Kerr is calling for a more mature level of politics on the island.

During the Full Disclosure programme on Tobago Updates on Thursday, Kerr condemned a recent video posted by electoral representative for Roxborough/Argyle, Watson Duke, who was speaking to a group of young people in the Goodwood area.

In the clip, Duke told the youths: “We want jobs, we want opportunities as anybody else – that is what we vote for, that is what we promise allyuh. I am saying to you all, later on in this month – an unmarked day – I am going to pull up just like this with a maxi and we going in town. Not to fight inno, but to say – hey, we want jobs. Unless the country knows that we want jobs, they’ll feel that everything nice inno.”

One young man lamented that he had recently come out of jail and had lost his THA job.

Duke said if the government could pay pensions to the elderly, it could also provide more opportunities for young people.

“Yuh see the young people and them who leave school? Them ain’t getting no school-feeding (meals), them ain’t getting no pension, them ain’t getting no NIS. All the government want to give them is a (court) case.”

He said the members of the Executive Council were always willing to help when they were in opposition, “But as they get the power, they can’t help. Their hands tied.”

Kerr was not impressed with Duke’s comments.

He said, “I believe that our politics needs to mature here. We need to go past – maybe I am naive to think deception and keeping people ignorant. The reality is: I’ve heard a lot of people saying, ‘We want jobs. Give we work, just give we work,’ and I wonder if they say and they thought about it objectively.”

He said it’s not as simple as some people perceive.

“It doesn’t work that way.

“The thing about it, as far as I am aware, in order to employ somebody, there must be some vacancy. And if it is in the public service, you apply, there is an interview, and if you are successful, you are appointed.

“If it’s on contract, a similar situation happens and there are other ways that persons may be selected.”

He said, at the end of the day, there is a finite number of THA positions available.

“You can’t just go into a village and say everybody who want work, come. It cannot work that way and therefore the narrative that has been pushed by certain persons – tell me how do we employ all these people and how do we pay them and what do we put them to do.”

He said Duke should have told the group, “Young fellas, we are going to try to facilitate you, we’re going to try to develop you, we’re going to try to bring as much training. Some of you would be absorbed, yes, but the reality is that you have to develop yourself.”

Kerr said the THA needs to be a facilitator.

“One of the things that we have to do: we have to provide opportunities and training so that these young persons can develop themselves. I don’t believe in keeping persons down – because you want to keep them a certain way you give them a little thing.

“I am saying, let us develop our human capital in Tobago. Let us train our young people. Let us provide opportunities for them to develop.”

He added: “The reality is that most of them are unskilled, most of them are untrained and therefore, how many persons can you employ where there is no skill. What do you put them to do? And that is the challenge.

“I am saying we have to look at developing our human resource and a critical part of that is not just simply handing out and say you give everybody a work, because the THA cannot employ everybody.”