The following Op-Ed was released on Monday (Nov 21) by Approved OBA Candidate Sophia Tessitore…
After listening to the Government’s 2022 Throne Speech, it has become increasingly clear to me that despite its lackluster 1000 Day Plan and Education Authority, the Progressive Labour Party Government is woefully unprepared and unwilling to meet the needs of Bermuda’s youth.
As a 21-year-old Bermudian, who has been educated solely in the public school system and navigated various hoops in hopes of achieving my goals, I find myself burnt out and disappointed in a system that has been failing my peers and I for the past 15 years. I have seen firsthand how educators struggle at times, reaching into their own pockets to cover school supplies the Government has failed to provide. I have seen crime increase and have had classmates fall victim to gang violence. I have seen multitudes of talented young Bermudians leave the island vowing to never to return, as they feel Bermuda lacks opportunity and they cannot afford the excruciating cost of living.
I have had this conversation with many friends who are eager to leave, who are worried about the economy and are stressed about the lack of affordable housing, jobs and ever-increasing cost of living along with lack of mental health resources for those battling with mental illness. They see no future for themselves in Bermuda, and this is especially true for those of the LGBTQ+ community, who feel unsupported and ignored by this current Government, whose focus seems to be on repealing their rights rather than ensuring equality. Many of my peers, despite being highly educated, skilled and passionate about their career, are struggling to find work, let alone make ends meet. It is almost unheard of for those in my age bracket (18-25) to successfully move out, with many approaching their 30s while still living at home, despite their qualifications and a full-time, well-paying job.
This is especially true for young entrepreneurs and creatives who have a vision to innovate Bermuda for the better. They are faced with obstacles and unnecessary bureaucratic processes that bar them from success, along with high start-up costs. Many have also mentioned the lack of recreational activities and nightlife for younger consumers, reiterating the lack of support for entrepreneurs who attempt to change this due to the difficulties associated with starting a business in Bermuda. Combined with the fact that most jobs are in the hospitality or international business industry, those who aim to work in the Arts sector or even sports face a lack of opportunities in their choice of career. For a Government that claims to care about young, Bermudian entrepreneurs, you’d think this would be addressed, right?
Going forward, I hope to see more being done by this Government to meet our needs, rather than sinking our money into a National Youth Policy and the Government Education Authority that simply acknowledges the issue while doing nothing to solve it. The PLP Government’s lack of vision and action speaks for itself, especially as it claims to be a “progressive” party yet has shown no plan forward for my generation in its 2022 Throne Speech.
As I continue to become politically and socially conscious, the less I find the Progressive Labour Party aligning with my views and needs as a young Bermudian. This is partially why I have chosen to become a candidate for the One Bermuda Alliance. Seeing the direction Bermuda is trending towards (especially economically) worries me and now more than ever, I feel that my voice needs to be heard.
I also hope that my peers step up and demand better for us and continue to fight for our island – whether that be through registering to vote—and exercising our vote, reaching out to their constituency’s candidates or engaging in advocacy. We need to ensure that our voice is heard as this current Government has shown that we are nothing more than a talking point to them, rather than Bermuda’s future.