The professional class is in crisis. Not only are professionals exposed to a higher risk of being dismissed, bypassed or not having their contracts renewed by the government, but there are cases of intimidation and victimization of professionals.
If that were not enough, professionals cannot point to anything that can encourage them to stay. The lack of policies directed towards enhancing the professional class remains an added disincentive.
Guyana cannot develop without the services of a professional class. It is this class which will keep the economy rolling; it is this class which is needed to help run government and private businesses.
It is inconceivable that Guyana can develop without a professional class. Yet, this class is being squeezed rather than nurtured.
The professional class is an important segment of the class structure of any society. It constitutes the petit bourgeois class – the lower middle class but conservative values and higher ambitions. Professionals constitute the emerging middle class. They represent an intermediate class which is located between and the upper middle class and the lower classes.
Policies must be developed to support this class and prevent its members from migrating in large numbers and taking with them their skills and their money.
Professionals have found themselves being made political scapegoats by the government. One professional who worked in a government agency and who is considered as an honest individual found himself dragged before the court on a most disingenuous charge.
It was a heartless action against the professional. This person had children who must have been subjected to embarrassment and hurt over the way in which their father was being publicly humiliated.
The charges were dismissed but the damage was already done. The man eventually got back his job but there were many others who were not that lucky.
A great many professionals have been placed on the breadline by the APNU+AFC Administration. The children of Donald Ramotar, the former President were all let go of their jobs in the public sector. The crimes of some professionals are that they worked under the previous administration and that there were supporters of the new ruling class who were eyeing up their jobs.
Professionals have been sidelined, transferred, had their contracts terminated and not renewed or dismissed. The public sector is poorer for their absence.
Others have been subjected to intimidation and victimization. This has had a demoralizing effect on professionals and many are looking for greener pastures or opportunities to quit once they can get out of their contractual obligations.
But the public sector is not the only area in which professionals operate. The professional class is to be found also in the private sector.
The government has however ignored the private sector, which is perceived to have been closely aligned to the former government. The government has therefore shown little interest in developing the private sector and this neglect is contracting rather than expanding the sector.
There are no policies targeting the development of the professional class. The former government has a special housing programme for young professionals. The present government’s housing programme is more about working with low-income workers – nothing wrong with this – and private developers building houses for home applicants.
There is no wages policy aimed to boosting the professional class. There is no financial initiative, supported by government, which can boost the professional class. There is no special employment contracts to attract and retain professionals.
The professional class is under threat. Those who have done well will read the writing on the wall and leave. Those who are now trying to develop their careers will find that there are insufficient opportunities for them to stay.
The crisis in the professional class means one thing and one thing alone. The exodus of skilled Guyanese will continue and with its extensive capital flight.
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