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National Youth Productivity Forum 2014/2015

AmCham T&T's President Remarks at the 2015 NYPF Media Launch

National Academy of Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain

As President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (Amcham), I consider it a singular honour and privilege to address you at this media launch of the sixth iteration of our National Youth Productivity Forum.

In keeping with its conviction that productivity, entrepreneurship and innovation are imperatives for sustainable development, Amcham continues to promote and support its signature youth development initiative (NYPF). Amcham also recognises that the dependency syndrome and culture of entitlement which are fast becoming all pervasive in the country need to be reversed in order for us to build a fair, just, competitive and excellent society. There must be "buy in" to these tenets of human inter-action to the extent that it becomes a way of life, for as the Greek philosopher Aristotle said "Excellence is not an act but a habit".

The NYPF focuses, inter alia, on promoting and developing critical thinking and analysis, research, innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as presentation skills. We are encouraged and fortified in our belief of its relevance and efficacy by the fact that the Initiative has been recognized and acclaimed by prestigious international organizations like the 26 country membership Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) and the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) which highlights among other things, private sector youth development programs which intrinsically can have substantial impact on development of world business leaders and policy makers who are critical to the building of civic institutions vital to a democratic society.

Neglect of these humanitarian imperatives leads to social impoverishment, lack of caring and neighbourliness, which are usually manifested in deviant behaviour of violence at the lower end of the social ladder and white collar crime at the upper echelon. We need to take a revolutionary turn away from chaos and despair to harmony and hope.

Amcham is heartened by the support of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) over the past years. UTT has played an integral role in the execution process, not only providing the venue for the discussion rounds and training elements but also making senior officials available to judge at some of the discussion sessions and providing one-on-one coaching to participating students. This year we will further deepen our relationship with UTT by co-hosting an entrepreneurship training exercise not only for students but also for teachers. I am advised that Dr Fazal Ali will expand on this initiative in the course of his address today.

The NYPF attracts a significant mix of schools across Trinidad and Tobago involving not only the so called prestige schools but also the less heralded ones from rural areas of Trinidad and in Tobago. What has become pellucidly clear over the past five years of the program is that intelligence abounds all over our lovely twin island state and is not circumscribed by geography or urbanization factors. Moreover, contrary to misinformed thinking among some persons, the NYPF is a vehicle towards enhanced scholastic performance rather than a distraction or hindrance. This is eloquently demonstrated by the fact that over the years several alumni of the program have been awarded national academic scholarships and this year the President's Medal winner, Sandeep Maharaj, was a participant in the NYPF and was amongst the 2014 winners.

In closing, I wish to thank those companies which have been supporting Amcham over the years and would like to make a special appeal to the private sector in general to assist this initiative, inter alia, by providing shepherding guidance and exposure to business planning and operations through internships, as well as sponsorship of related events. I am confident you will find the interaction with our young people stimulating and rewarding. It is indeed an investment which will redound to the benefit of your organizations and by extension the wider society.

Hugh Howard

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