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Caribbean labor ministers concerned over unemployment issue

KINGSTON, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Caribbean labor ministers have expressed concern over the unemployment issue in the region, especially the unemployment of young people, according to reports reaching here on Wednesday.

"When people are desperate and they are young and they cannot realistically aspire to a life of dignity in the workplace, then you have trouble in your backyard," said Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie who paid special attention to the issue of youth unemployment.

"We have an extraordinary challenge ahead of us," he said in a keynote speech during the two-day Ninth International Labor Organization (ILO) Meeting of Caribbean Labor Ministers which concluded on Wednesday in Nassau, capital of Bahamas.

ILO Director General Guy Ryder also expressed concern over youth unemployment, saying that young people under the age of 25 are three times more likely to be unemployed and currently about 75 million people aged below 25 are out of work around the world.

The issue of child labor also drew attention at the meeting attended by labor ministers and other high-level officials from 13 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states and nine territories, as well as representatives of the Caribbean Congress of Labor and the Caribbean Employers' Confederation.

"As a Caribbean community, we must continue to unite to end child labor as it deprives children the world over of their childhood and is harmful to their development," said Shane Gibson, labor minister of Bahamas.

Caribbean labor ministers also discussed the CARICOM-ILO partnership and several critical labor issues, including job opportunities and the training of young people.

The delegates also held discussions with public and private investor representatives from Canada and China.

Many Caribbean countries, mostly small islands, have long suffered from high unemployment, particularly for women and young people, a drain of skilled workers, and a lack of funds for education and training.

The first ILO Caribbean labor ministers' meeting was held in Trinidad and Tobago in 1996.

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