Definition of Youth

The national youth policy (2012) of Trinidad & Tobago defines youth as between 12-29. Youth is divided into three categories: early years, transition years and mature years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 14
  • XX
  • Female
  • 18
  • 12
  • XX

  • For marriage with parental consent, ages differ depending on religion, with minimums as low as14 years for males and 12 years for females. Homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 7-13 years old, the state must prove criminal capacity. A child below 7 cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. Source:  UN Child Rights Periodic Report

Majority Age


Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.60% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.62% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 70.20%Male %
  • 75.17% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 20.80% Male (13-15) %
  • 17.80% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Trinidad & Tobago has a youth policy covering 2012-2017, which has replaced the previous 2004 version.

The national youth policy 2012-2017 replaces the national youth policy (2004) with the vision that each young person has “a place, a purpose, a plan” with “a unique purpose to his or her life, based upon naturally endowed skills and competencies and those they may choose to develop over time.”   The policy focuses on five goals: Youth participation in development; Youth services & resources; Integrated youth programming; Youth empowerment; Citizenship & identity.   Trinidad & Tobago is a signatory to the CARICOM Youth Development Action Plan 2012-2017 (CYDAP), designed to support policy making on youth development.   As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Trinidad & Tobago is a signatory of The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2006-2015

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development has responsibility for youth affairs and describes itself as taking an evidence-based approach “in order to advance gender equality, the rights of the child, and youth development.” The priority for youth development is “promoting youth mainstreaming of all programmes and policies affecting young men and women.”   The Ministry delivers the Youth Awards, youth offices, youth facilities, apprenticeship centres, vacation camps, and is responsible for the national youth policy 2012-2017.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Youth Council of Trinidad and Tobago (NYCTT) is “a federation of youth and youth organisations” and is “the focal point for youth.” However, the official Facebook Page has not been updated since 2011 and the website is currently unavailable.   However, the “Trinidad Youth Council” is listed as a founding member of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council, established in December 2013. The Trinidad National Youth Council is a member of the Commonwealth Youth Council.   Trinidad has an active Youth Ambassador to the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors programme.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
TTD 211.4 million
USD 32.7 million
According to the Draft Estimates of Expenditure for 2014, the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development was allocated TTD 211.4 million (USD 32.7 million). However, the proportion spent on youth affairs in not specified. According to the World Bank, Trinidad & Tobago spent 11.05% of its government expenditure and 3.16% of its GDP on education provision in 2003.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

The national youth policy 2012-2017 provides a situation analysis for youth in Trinidad & Tobago:

Youth profile
The national youth profile provides a demographic profile of youth and attempts a census of the main activities in which they are engaged. It is estimated that there are approximately 450,556 young people between the ages of12 and 29 in Trinidad and Tobago, representing some 34.2 per cent of the national population with males (1 04,420) outnumbering females (85,302) by 51 per cent to 49 per cent.
Those in the age category 12 to 15 are usually found within secondary school system. The youth labour force (16 to 29 age group) accounts for some 201,000 (2009) of which males account for 117,100 and females 83,900. While the number of unemployed youth has been decreasing within the last few years (in 2000, the unemployed youth population was 38,900, while in 2009 this figure reduced to 18,000), when compared with the national unemployment rate, youth are still worse off. Many young people have taken advantage of opportunities and have continued in further education and others are in the many skills-based and apprenticeship programmes available for their usage. Unfortunately, many young people have found themselves in gangs and criminal activity.
Education and training
Young people expressed anxiety about poverty and limited access to financing, as key determinants in accessing educational and training opportunities. They are also concerned about inadequate family support and guidance, in particular, by the children of teenaged-parents; bullying, peer pressure and low self-esteem; inappropriate curriculum for the needs of students; unhealthy learning environments; insufficient integration of new technology into the learning environment, thereby losing potential benefits; and inadequate information to youth, as many are unaware o f the opportunities that are open to them.
Young people living in rural areas were particularly concerned about a lack of transportation in certain areas and at certain times. Other issues that are in need of redress are: 1) a lack of access to key infrastructure and support systems to facilitate young people, including sporting, recreational, library and internet facilities, that are easily available in urban centres; and 2) curricula that are not sufficiently structured to meet their needs. Differently-abled youth have challenges related to transportation, access to learning institutions and their facilities as well as discrimination due to a lack of understanding by persons without visible disabilities.
Employment and enterprise
Young people have named exploitation as their most critical issue with respect to employment. They cite exposure to several forms of exploitation including low wages, long hours, child labour and sexual harassment. Other areas of concern were lack of qualifications and work experience; lack o f information on jobs and opportunities that may be of interest to them; discrimination and lack of respect, especially with respect to age, stereotyping of individuals and denying youth access to jobs because of their 'rasta' hairstyles, their home address, their religion or their personal circumstances. They also dislike biased recruitment policies, the apparent nepotism or the 'who you know' approach to recruitment which demoralizes them and makes them cynical about the future. On the other hand, employers who do not engage in these practices are seen by some as 'not helping' family and friends.
The main challenges to youth health have been identified by young people as substance abuse decreased physical activity and inadequate sexual and reproductive health education at home, in school and within the wider community. It was felt that youth health services are insufficient and many of them were unaware of what constitutes sound health practices. Additionally, the physical infrastructure of many health and public facilities are quite old, in need of repair and inadequate in terms of space and layout. Service delivery can be protracted, with large crowds, long waiting times and laborious procedures, representing invisible barriers to access by young people. Many young people also expressed concern about the level of privacy and confidentiality in some health institutions. It is felt that unsafe sexual practices, a sedentary lifestyle and the dangers of second hand smoke are exposing their health and lives to innumerable risks.