THERE was overwhelming support for a motion by THA Assistant Secretary for Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour, Assemblyman Shomari Hector, calling on youths to embrace the opportunities for self-development through innovation, creativity and industry.
In his delivery at the 23rd sitting of the 2017-2021 session of the THA on Thursday, at the Assembly Legislature in Scarborough, Hector called for the House to support the work of the Executive Council in its attempt to foster a culture of innovation, creativity and industry on the island, particularly among the youth which would significantly contribute to the economic development of Tobago.
Hector said, “The time has come for us to begin to move away from those traditional courses of study and those traditional type careers in order to give us an opportunity to buoy our economy, to buoy ourselves and to re-establish and perhaps move ourselves further up on the chain of innovation on the world stage."
He added, “There is a correlation between the creative industries and cultural identities. We know all too well and we can look at the statistics now and see that the creative industry is now being recognised as one of the leading economic drivers in developing countries, as it pertains to financial restructuring of their operations in developing countries.”
Hector said the Tobago economic development has been primarily driven by a combined effort by the Assembly and the Central Government, whereas in many “newly developed countries” the creative class has been identified as a dominant driving force in its economic development.
The Assistant Secretary appealed to parents, teachers, community leaders, members of the political arena, all influential persons to "not misrepresent the possibilities that can be had in the creative economy."
He said, “Do not allow for persons to think that an appreciation for culture and the arts is for a second-class man… an underclass man. That it is a second chance to live, a second chance to be, a second chance to become. In fact, we should begin now to inject in their little minds, in their consciences, the fact that they can become the very best of anything they can imagine.”
Adding some support to the motion, Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Chief Secretary with responsibility for Education, Innovation and Energy and representative for Plymouth/ Golden Lane, Marisha Osmond said the motion was quite timely.
“It is our job as leaders sitting around this horseshoe to help our young people to find their space and place in this world, she said, adding, “All we are asking is that our young people come on board; that they grasp every single opportunity; that they move away from the wayside; that they encourage each other to grasp the opportunities as they present themselves, so that all of us can enjoy and have a Tobago that we can enjoy.”
Assemblyman Farley Augustine, the representative for Parlatuvier, L’Anse Fourmi/ Speyside, the lone Opposition member present, commended the motion, as he lamented “we have lost some people."
He said, “While it is great for us to be discussing our young people (and) ways of developing the creative sector so that our young people could feel more at home, it means that somewhere along the line, we have lost some people, and I dare say we have lost many people. We may not have lost them to bad vices, but we have lost many young people in a way that they are not meaningfully contributing to the island’s development as they should.”
Augustine agreed Tobago will benefit by developing the island and the youth in particular, in the areas of film making, computer graphics and social media use.
He said, “The question that we should ask ourselves from the get-go is, 'What else can we do, what more should we be doing?' Because if we have all these wonderful programmes and we still have an issue with brain drain, and brain drain in our century is not just our people being absent from the island, but their creative, intelligent and powerful thoughts are not with us. If that kind of brain drain is still happening, it means that we have to try something or somethings differently in order to captivate the imagination of our young people.”
The Assemblyman said to achieve the goal, there must be two areas of focus.
He said, “The first must be to our young people, especially those who are unattached. I am begging of you… engage your communities in more ways than just sitting by the roadside and liming away most of your day. You can do much more than that, especially you the young men… contribute, engage somebody.
“I want to charge us to not be afraid to do things differently… I hear the talk of business as unusual, but I tell you I would like to see more business as unusual because I believe that our situation is at an emergency level, whether we like to admit it or not, it is. And so, we have to move much more expeditiously in trying to harness those creative skills of all of our young people.”
In closing the debate, Hector said the House extended a hand of fellowship to the member after he showed such irresistible support.
He declared, “From past experience, it would have proven that we would have agreed on some areas and disagreed on the vast majority. I can say with certainty today, what the member opposite would have articulated would have been overwhelming support and would have further punctuated the discussions with sound ideas and with suggestions that we would happily take on-board and extend further a hand of fellowship.”
The motion was passed by an overwhelming majority.