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Proms, graduations and summer holidays its a heady combination of celebration and freedom and what seems to be unlimited prospects, but is that really accurate? Some commencement exercises have already been held in the north and more are scheduled for the weeks ahead. When all is said and done, approximately 800 prospective new employees will be released into the work market from Orange Walk and Corozal 800 Belizeans who need to find work sooner rather than later. But the thing is that the unemployment rate has skyrocketed to more than 23%. That means that one in four Belizeans who wants to work cant find work. And thats not taking into account the more than 5000 graduates making their entrance right about now countrywide.

The very real and very frightening unemployment crisis has been one of the focal points of the Opposition Peoples United Party which has put pressure on government to find some resolution in the very near future. We spoke to PUP Leader John Briceno who first took the opportunity to congratulate our emerging scholars.

Hon. John Briceno PUP Leader

“I want to take the opportunity to congratulate all the young men and women graduating from High School and Sixth Form. I know it required a lot of dedication and determination on their part and in many cases from the families a form of sacrifices to be able to keep their children going to school. It is a turning point in the live of every young Belizean when they walk that Pomp and Circumstance it is wonderful time for them and I want to congratulate them for achieving this level of success in their education.”

One controversial move by government in the past weeks has been the decision to rename the Orange Walk Technical High School the Elodio Aragon Technical High School. Both past and current students have made their displeasure and disgust at the name change very obvious and today, so did Briceno.

Hon. John Briceno PUP Leader

“I have absolutely no problem with Mr. Aragon he wasn’t known to be such a great educator or such a great Minister of Education. When the U.D.P decided to name the Philip Goldson International Airport I did not say anything because he was around for so long even with the Esquivel Telecommunication Centre in the sense that again he was the Prime Minister for two terms and probably that is a sense of respect that you give to the man but for you to change the Orange Walk Technical High School to Elodio Aragon Technical High School where is that taking us. Mr. Aragon he was a failure as Minister of Education so I saw that as ridiculous and moving away from the real issues that we are facing.”

And then it was on to the real issue the fact that while thousands of graduates will soon be looking for work, there is no work to be had.

Screen_shot_2011-06-06_at_8.08.15_PMHon. John Briceno PUP Leader

“All of these young people are going to be graduating and what is it that is going to happened to them where are they going to get a job? Earlier this year the former Prime Minister asked in the National Assembly what is the official unemployment rate and they refused to answer. Now that the statistics have come out they had no other way to keep it a secret and no surprise to most people except for the ministers who are completely out of touch with reality we find out that the unemployment rate is at 23%. When the P.U.P was in government it just over 8% and in three years the unemployment rate almost tripled this is a crisis situation and this is what the government is suppose to be looking at how are we going to create jobs for the Belizean people, not fighting with the bus people trying to victimize them by taking away their bus runs and giving it to a U.D.P crony, not by going at these poor people that are trying to find where to put their home where they can raise a family and go like a thief in the night and break down their homes not to change the name from Orange Walk Technical High School to Elodio Aragon Technical High School where is that putting us, absolutely no where. The governments mandate was to create jobs; they promised 5000 new jobs and here we find that we have lost thousands of jobs. This government is a lost government they have no sense of direction, they have no vision, they have no plan, they have no idea how to manage a government and how to manage the economy and it is obvious right now that the people of Belize are saying enough is enough, basta ya no mas.”

Statistics released by the Statistical Institute of Belize show that when the previous administration left office in 2008, unemployment stood at 8.2%. It is currently recorded at 23.1%.

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