By Abena Rockcliffe
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) yesterday addressed the issue of youth unemployment in Guyana calling it a time bomb that needs to be defused.
At the party’s weekly press conference, party leader David Granger said that the government’s delay in dealing with the unemployment crisis, as well as its disregard for measures to defuse the same, could very well result in a social explosion with severely dangerous consequences.
Granger cited the decade-old National Employment Report published by the International Labour Organization which stated that about 44 percent of the population of working age is “not economically active.” He said the report also informed that young people suffer the most, owing to the fact that school-leavers are inexperienced and have a long wait before they find their first job.
The party leader told media operatives that APNU is of the view that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic administration—despite being very well aware of the aforementioned and other pertinent facts mentioned at yesterday’s briefing—continues to pay scant attention to the issue of unemployment affecting youths, preferring instead, to prescribe a series of palliative remedies which do not cure the chronic disease joblessness.
In this regard, Granger said that APNU is calling for the construction of permanent institutes for agricultural and technical education in every region. He said as well that the Partnership wants to see the promotion of an integrated programme for job creation and also for the PPPC administration to promulgate a national youth policy in order to avert a social crisis.
Granger asserted that unemployed youths find themselves ensnared in a position from which they cannot move forward or backward. He opined that this “has been made worse by the crisis in the public education system and the failure of the PPPC administration to promulgate and pursue a coherent and comprehensive national youth policy.”
As he continued to proverbially hit home his point, Granger took a swipe at Dr Frank Anthony, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport.
“Soon after he (Dr. Anthony) was appointed in 2006, he publicly announced that the National Youth Policy – which had been promulgated in 1994 – would be reviewed. That was seven years ago! Anthony later admitted to the National Assembly that the PPPC Administration still does not have a functional National Youth Policy. The Minister has also been conducting consultations for the introduction of a five-year action plan for Youth Development and Empowerment Programme (YDEP) for over six years!” Granger said.
“Unplanned responses to the youth unemployment crisis by the PPPC administration – such as the President’s Youth Choice Initiative and the President’s Youth Award: Republic of Guyana, copied from the British Duke of Edinburgh International Award for Young People – have never provided employment. There is, however, a baffling array of schemes.”
Granger asserted that five government ministries –Amerindian Affairs; Culture, Youth and Sport; Education; Home Affairs and Labour – “continue to jostle each other to offer a variety of glamorous, ad hoc, training courses for young people. They all promise short-term remedies, but do not provide the long-term careers that youths desperately need”.
He stated that the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, for example, earlier this year launched $200M Youth Apprenticeship and Entrepreneur Programme (YAEP).
Granger pointed out that “the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport conducts the Youth Entrepreneurial Skills Training (YEST) programme for out-of-school, unskilled and unemployed youths; the Ministry of Education conducts its own Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) programme which require a sound base in mathematics, science and English language. The Ministry of Home Affairs offers training in what it calls “life skills” under its Citizen Security Programme (CSP). The Ministry of Labour, through its Board of Industrial Training (BIT) conducts a two-year apprenticeship programme now called the National Training Project for Youth Empowerment (NTPYE) for youths who have not completed high school…
“The tragedy is that, despite the ferment of schemes — CSP; NTPYE; PYCI; PYARG; TVET; YAEP; YDEP and YEST — there have been insufficient employment opportunities. Too many Guyanese youths still leave school unskilled, enter the workforce for the first time and are obliged to resort to the informal sector for employment in low-paying occupations. Four out of every ten youths face a jobless future and the PPPC administration is still to announce a plan to deal with this crisis!”
Granger said that APNU is of the belief that if those initiatives are explored, implemented and maintained, the problem can be solved.
Guyana Youth and Students Movement Chairman and MP Christopher Jones added that the institutes should be geared towards the needs and opportunities available in the regions.
“For example, Region Six… as you know, we’re now doing oil exploration, is there any training for young people in that region that should we find oil they can take up these jobs as a result?”
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