Opinion

Our young are fleeing a sinking ship

  • Dwayne Robinson, opposition senator with the One Bermuda Alliance

We are heading into the budget period and I am certain we will hear about a lot of new initiatives from the Government, but I would like to take this opportunity to state what I hope to see.

The Progressive Labour Party can dismiss the Opposition’s concerns as doom and gloom, but what about concerns from non-political sources?

Real estate property slumped in the second half of 2019, according to an industry newsletter, and a leading retail stakeholder said it appeared that the Government was not prepared to budge over relief for the sector.

While all this back-and-forth is going on, the thing I have yet to see at the forefront of any discussion is: how will we get young and working-age Bermudians to stay in Bermuda? How will we get young people to return?

Many have left or are positioning themselves to leave — I am constantly bumping into old friends from school, peers and colleagues who are preparing to go.

Far too often I receive “How are you?” messages from friends I haven’t seen in a while, only to find they have started a better life for themselves elsewhere.

Qualified, creative, and/or highly educated under-30-year-olds gone just like that.

Those of us who remain, struggle to live on our own, struggle to pay for education, struggle to start our businesses, and struggle to support our families. How will this government improve life for them?

Who will pay to sustain a unified health system, all these government social initiatives and this immense debt if my peers continue to leave?

I am fully aware that everyone is struggling, but the reason I have prioritised the under-30s is because they are the taxpayers of tomorrow. Without them, everything halts. Yet there isn’t nearly enough emphasis on keeping them on island.

The PLP had $800,000 to loan to Savvy Entertainment; I wonder what the Bermudian teams behind Wednesday Night Vibes or Bermemes could have achieved with a fraction of that.

We had $1.2 million to give to the already wealthy Ewart Brown. What could the young team at BermyEats Café & Catering have done with a fraction of that? The money could have been spread among many young innovative entrepreneurs, keeping them in Bermuda.

There are young Bermudians who are pioneering New Age businesses and who could be employing other Bermudians who have yet to get a single hand-up.

It’s time we invested creating a framework for our artists and creatives to build an industry for themselves.

It is very possible in the digital age to be able to operate overseas or receive profit worldwide off your craft while living in Bermuda.

Fostering creativity and innovation would show marked improvement in our tourism product and our reach overseas.

I urge this government to show real commitment to the future of our island — the youth — in this Budget. If it does not, there will be not be enough people left in Bermuda to pick up all the bills.

Dwayne Robinson is an Opposition senator with the One Bermuda Alliance