Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) deputy political leader Farley Augustine is promising to make Tobago more attractive for Tobagonians. Augustine is the PDP candidate for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside in the January 25 THA election and the party’s choice for chief secretary, if elected.
He pledged to give young graduates opportunities to find jobs locally in specialised career fields.
Augustine said the aim is to create a Tobago that “Tobagonians are proud of.”
He made the promise during another live series of Primetime with Farley Augustine on Sunday evening. His comments were made in response to concerns raised by a caller about limited resources to keep Tobagonians in Tobago.
The caller expressed concerns about brain drain, saying, “It seems like we are just making Tobagonians to export them.”
The caller said one critical issue is that the island’s population has remained stagnant for some time. The population is around 50,000.
He said it should have grown to at least 200,000 people in 2020, and this growth would have brought the economic activity needed for the economy to survive outside of revenue generated from the tourism sector.
Augustine agreed that creating opportunities to keep young Tobagonians on the island to assist with its economic growth is of significant importance. He asked young Tobagonians to take his team to task by voting them, for a chance to bring the change and opportunities they hope to see within the next four years.
“We would want to create a Tobago where our young people would want to stay in Tobago,” Augustine said. “When you ask those who left, ‘Why you not in Tobago and why are you not coming back to Tobago?’ They will calmly shrug and tell you, ‘There’s nothing in Tobago for us.’
“Those of us who stay are quite brave to do so, because there are days when you look around and ask yourself if you made the right decision to stay, because it appears that Tobago just isn’t friendly towards our generation.
“It’s not just our generation, because a significant (number) of people from the generation before that left, and those before that too. So it has been a cyclical kind of arrangements where our people chose to migrate, giving us the highest migration rate in the Caribbean.”
Augustine believes that can be reversed.
“If we are to give Tobagonians a Tobago they can be proud of, they are more likely to stay in Tobago and help to work and develop the island.”
The lack of opportunities for qualified Tobagonains has been a longstanding issue.
In 2018 former Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) director June Melville urged unemployed nurses to leave Tobago and seek opportunities elsewhere if there were no vacancies at the TRHA. She was addressing concerns about lack of jobs for nurses at the TRHA/Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Public Accountability consultation. Nurses at the consultation complained of having to leave their families in Tobago so that they could find a job in Trinidad.
Melville said, “In the past when we experienced a similar issue, nurses were exported, so a lot of us went to the United States and around the world. Going to Trinidad should not be a problem.”
Tobagonians training to become fire or police officers have also had to move to Trinidad to take up employment.