Posted on


Clyde Mascoll


Social Share

The private sector has acted very responsibly in not sending home more workers over the last three years. However, the unemployment rate still climbed to double digits and is expected to rise over the next 12 months.
Since 2009, the character of Barbados’ unemployed profile has changed in such a manner that the unemployment rate is higher among males than females for the first time. The implications of higher unemployment among males are several including: (1) the changing structure of the economy; (2) the declining educational attainment of males; and (3) the wider social concerns.
Since 2007, the Barbados economy declined by approximately ten per cent. Most of the decline came in the tradable sector of which the tourism sector is almost two thirds. However in dollar terms, the decline in the non-tradable sector was the same as in the tradable sector because the former is three times as big.
The higher unemployment rate among males is predominantly the result of the contraction of activity in the construction sector. In addition, though the decline in the retail and distribution has been much less, the sector is the largest followed by finance and other services and the Government sector.
Although it is known that the construction sector employs mainly males, there is an underlying concern with respect to male employment that is not receiving attention. It has to do with the changing nature of the economy, with services taking over from the more traditional areas of agriculture and manufacturing.   
From the above, it is evident that the largest sectors in the economy are in the area of services. If the enrolment at the country’s tertiary institutions is showing females outnumbering males by a ratio of four to one, then it should come as no surprise that for the first time in Barbados’ history, unemployment among males is higher than females over the last three years.
The data from last year’s census is eagerly awaited, but there are more males than females under the age of 25 in this country which explains why more boys than girls sit the Common Entrance Examination every year. This fact makes the enrolment numbers at the tertiary institutions very worrying.
It is impossible for any country, far less one that has been so successful in its family planning programme, to prosper when half of its youth is not focused on enhancing its opportunity to fully contribute to the country’s growth and development.
This country’s human capital is its real resource and each successive generation must thrive to be better than the previous one.
Over the last four decades, there has been an increase in the female participation rate in the labour and the reasons are well documented. These reasons include: (1) declining fertility rates; (2) higher educational attainment; (3) advancement in living standards; (4) increased job opportunities for women and (5) changing social attitudes.
Each factor above can be analyzed in the Barbadian context with the appropriate conclusions drawn on the way in which females continue to play their part in the pursuit of the country’s social and economic development. It is not possible to draw the same conclusions for the males, notwithstanding the head-start that they got in a less progressive era.
Unfortunately, these kinds of issues are lost on individuals who are obsessed with trying to separate a society from an economy in pursuit of cheap political points.
The two cannot be separated and the challenge of leadership is to find the balance.  
The employment profile is the centerpiece of any country’s economic and social programming in which the role of the male is essential.