Creating employment for young people

What the people say
By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
March 20, 2000

What should government be doing to create employment for young people? The views of the man/woman-in-the-street on the question posed this week follow:

Rondy Elyden - student: "First of all government in partnership with the private sector should invest in manufacturing and service industries to create employment for young people in particular. If not history will not be kind to government for a generation lost. We have a serious youth unemployment problem on hand because students leaving schools and training institutions are not getting jobs. If government invests jointly at least private investors will not be afraid to invest in the local industrial sector. I think government has to get serious in its efforts to create employment for young people and encourage the local manufacturing sector. We produce not only for local consumption but for export as well. However, we need to encourage the buy local slogan. In any venture government must ensure that young people are part of the consultation and that decisions are made with youths' input."

Alexi La Rose - teacher/library assistant: "I think we should use more local products and encourage the manufacturing of more locally produced goods. The emphasis should be on local production. In doing so this would create employment for young people. I do not think that the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports is doing enough for young people. Many are leaving school, training institutions and the University of Guyana and cannot find jobs. Government should as a matter of policy make provision for the private sector to take on a number of young people leaving secondary schools and other training institutions in apprenticeship schemes. This country has enough raw material and a variety of food and fruits to stop importing the current amount of foodstuff coming here. Why should we import fruit juices, jams, jellies, peanut butter, chicken and even corned beef? If the government facilitates the private sector and encourages the type of investment we really need it will stop the brain drain we are experiencing. Young people are not staying in the country. The fact is if young people cannot find jobs in the country, then why stay? This is the reason for negative population growth."

Malissa Lewis - student: "Our country's physical infrastructure is poor. We need to shift from the city and towns where everyone seeks employment and redirect energies to the development of agricultural and manufacturing industries in rural and hinterland areas. Because of employment and under-employment government and the private sector should carry out studies to determine the skills our young people have and try to channel them in the direction they should go. Our country's needs should also determine how and what we need to develop to make our country a prosperous one. The priority for government should be encouraging investors and education which involves training and retraining of young people. More high profile jobs in foreign companies should go to Guyanese."

Andray Alfred - student: "At this time, government's priority should be the creation of new industries. Government should also make it compulsory that they invest a portion of their capital in young people whether it be through apprenticeship schemes or through scholarships. It is a difficult period because young people these days seeking employment are not being given the opportunity because we do not have the experience. If we are not taken on how then do we get employment. Right now the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports should be meeting young people in the schools to hear their views on the current situation. As a young person about to leave school, I would like to be counted among the pioneers who have helped in creating new and enterprising companies. The more established companies would have old heads who are established in their ways. With a new company young people will have a greater chance to use their knowledge."

Tracy Ross-Thomas - housewife: "I took many courses in the hope of becoming gainfully employed - courses in first-aid, maternal and child care, care for the elderly and even train the trainers programme - but I cannot get a job or even further training with the background that I have. I have applied for training on the nurses-aide programme but I was told that I would be included on the next batch. Another time I was told that I live too far away from the city. I can't find employment in what I think I would really like to do. However, I do think that there is need for persons with my skills countrywide. We do not have enough nursing personnel to meet the country's needs. If some areas are too far out then government should establish training centres for nursing in these far out areas. Clearly if people cannot be accepted for training because they live in far away places then government is discriminating against a section of the population."

Joseph Thomas - public sector employee: "We need something very much like the Guyana National Service [GNS] to get young people focused on their well-being and the country's development once more. It was a mistake closing down the centres and reducing the service's scope to virtually nothing. It was good in equipping young people with skills to become employed or self-employed. Through the GNS young people learnt to respect work as well as basic respect for each other. Now because young people are not getting jobs we have to really think about creating employment for young people. We have to get back to creating institutions like the GNS. There is a lot of land in this country to be developed but I do not think that government is making land available easily. Because conditions are not favourable to local investors many are not investing but are instead seeking ways and means to leave the country. We have to give local business the incentive to invest here and to want to stay in Guyana. In this way they will help to create jobs for young people."

Waveney La Rose - private sector employee/homemaker: "I believe that tourism could help in creating employment not only for young people but for Guyana on the whole. I believe that young people could move this industry forward. So much could be gained out of pushing tourism in this country. We have so much natural beauty in this country to be explored. But we do not have the financial resources. This sector needs major investment but the returns will be good. From travel, hotels, services, the farmers, the entertainment and music industries - employment will be generated in all sectors. In addition to local currency circulating the country will earn foreign currency. Young people will then need training in the hospitality sector. Government needs to look seriously at the tourism industry. It has a lot of potential here."

Somatie Persaud - private sector employee: "I think our political situation has affected investments and so development. Our young people have been badly affected in this regard as well. Government at this time should be encouraging investments especially from among overseas-based Guyanese. We don't have to rely on foreign investments. We have brilliant Guyanese. If Banks DIH, Demerara Distillers Ltd, the Kissoons and the Beharrys could have made it in spite of the unstable political situation we have been going through, other Guyanese, given some incentives can do it. Guyana could be a better place but young people must be given the chance. The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports should be making the issue of job creation for young people a priority."

Roxanne Lynch - private sector employee: "Unemployment among young people is serious. Apart from young people being out of a job many more from the public sector are due to shortly join the ranks of the unemployed in the public sector reform project. So government should not only be looking at young people but unemployed Guyanese in general. Government has to give Guyanese investors better concessions than the foreign investors. At least the Guyanese would not be taking away from the country's economy as the foreign investor would. We have a lot of unoccupied land and if persons would like to utilise land for industries it should be made available readily. This would help in creating jobs for young people. Because of frustration many young people have turned to drugs and to illegal means of obtaining money."

Edward Jerioh - self-employed: "I think that government is not doing enough to create jobs for young people and for the population as a whole. We continue to lose people to countries overseas because we cannot attract foreign investment much less retain local investment. Government's watchword should be investment. In talking about investment, government has to push certain industries. I think it could be done in certain areas. Investment should be for the benefit of Guyana, however. We have enough land and many young people are coming out of GTI [Government Technical Institute] and the Government Industrial Training Centre [GITC] with little or no job opportunity. In addition there are many who are not paid properly for their skills. Many are too qualified for the job and in addition are underpaid."