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Labour market dwindling

Labour market dwindling

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The fact that people are living longer, coupled with the declining birth rate could have implications for the labour market of St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

So says Executive Director of the National Insurance Services (NIS) Reginald Thomas, who was speaking at a NIS hosted panel discussion, as part of the institution’s 25th anniversary celebrations, last Thursday, January 5, at the NIS building on Upper Bay Street, Kingstown.

Thomas, who spoke as part of a four-member panel, chaired by Stewart Haynes and which included Professor Frank Alleyne, Judith Veira and Dr Valda Henry, said that a number of factors contribute to the dwindling work force, from which social security is to be drawn, as well as paid out.

“Along with what is happening within the labour market, on the demographic side, persons are living longer, we are also seeing birthrates falling; we are also seeing the quality of aging improving. We are seeing labour markets are now being assessed at a time when economic challenges are more severe.”

According to Thomas, the increase in Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases is also having an impact on the labour force, and is playing its part on the number of years an individual can contribute to social security.

“Here at the NIS we are seeing persons who are turning 41 and 42 wanting to be named invalids.

“We are expecting 44 years of contribution. You join the labor force at 16, you exit at 60; you give us 44 years of your contribution, we pay your retirement pension, but in the middle of that the participation rate is declining because of lifestyle diseases….”

Thomas observed a gender imbalance in the labour market, pointing out that the majority of the work force is female, who are having fewer children, and in most cases, later on in life.

“So the pool from which social security draws its collection and its contribution is shrinking.

“The labour market is not giving us the years, the level of productivity is declining; when that is assessed, what level of skill set is requisite to drive social security, continue development and enhancement?”

Thomas called for the improvement and enhancement of education in the labour market, as one of the solutions to the issues affecting the work force, and highlighted other means of bringing the labour market on a level that would help social security.

“If labour is important… to drive productivity and enhance the development of the social protection system, we must put on board policies that will address the issue of retooling and re-skilling persons to increase the labour force participation rate.”

We must look at the standardization of recruitment policies and practices, specifically as they relate to Occupational Safety and Health standards to protect lives and limbs.”(JJ)

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