IMF says Government’s move to Skills Training Empowerment Program (STEP) will close skills gap, promote inclusive growth

(PRESS SEC) – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) lauds the Team Unity Government’s efforts to foster inclusive growth and fill the skills gap with the Skills Training Empowerment Program (STEP).

STEP, which was launched on February 16th, 2017, provides valuable real-world training to participants, equipping them with the right skills to fill vacancies and achieve upward mobility.

A Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) study of the now-defunct PEP program in St. Kitts and Nevis revealed in 2015 that, startlingly, only 130 people (114 females and 16 males) out of the approximately 4,000 participants had benefited from sustainable training. PEP – STEP’s precursor – was established by the previous administration in 2012.

According to the Results for Development Institute (R4D), by the year 2030, there will be 3.5 billion people in the global workforce. However, 1 billion of those people – including 75 million youths – will not have the necessary skills to find a job, says R4D, a global non-profit organization. R4D was co-founded in 2008 by David de Ferranti who once served as regional vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean at the World Bank.

Ms. Inci Otker, the IMF mission chief on the 2017 Article Four (IV) Consultation to St. Kitts and Nevis, said yesterday, Thursday, May 4th, 2017, that the Team Unity administration’s move to implement STEP is welcome. She further stated that programs like STEP “serve the high-end needs of the economy” and help to “overcome persistent structural challenges [such as the skills gap] that continue to limit the potential for inclusive growth.”

Speaking with the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, Ms. Otker commended the steps that the Government is taking to foster inclusive growth. When growth is inclusive, there are increased opportunities for all segments of the population, as well as a fair share of prosperity across the society.

The IMF official said that, “What we [the IMF] also like is that they [the St. Kitts-Nevis authorities] would like to enhance the resilience of the economy and also make any growth that will be achieved inclusive, which we interpret as spread the benefits of growth across the population, take care of the poor as well as the more wealthy, and also address some of the social issues like health, non-communicable diseases, as well as poverty and crime. These are all very important objectives to address and we welcome the authorities’ efforts in that direction.”

The IMF team led by Ms. Inci Otker visited St. Kitts and Nevis between April 18th and May 3rd as part of the routine Article IV Consultation to the country.

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