Hundreds of Guyanese, mainly young persons, were reported to have flocked to the MovieTowne entertainment complex, applying for mainly low-level jobs – cashiers, ushers, counter attendants and store hands. Hundreds more were likely to have turned up yesterday for interviews.
The numbers applying for these mainly low-income jobs exemplify the gravity of the youth unemployment problem in Guyana. Persons are leaving school with five or more good passes at CXC and still cannot find jobs.
One of the biggest failures and betrayals of the APNU+AFC Coalition has been its failure to dent youth employment. The Coalition in its Manifesto had identified youth unemployment and the lack of rewarding jobs as the most serious problem facing young people. It promised action to address this problem.
It has failed to keep its promises. The coalition promised to appoint an inter-Ministerial Task Force to find solutions, which would support access to long-term jobs for young people. The young people are still waiting for these solutions.
The Coalition promised to establish a vibrant, diversified “skill-intensive and natural resource-based modern economy capable of satisfying to needs, hopes and aspirations for employment and development of young men and women”. Three-and-a-half years after this promise, there is no evidence that such an economy is emerging. The government is hell bent on waiting on oil.
The Coalition promised to universalize a technical and vocational programme to afford young people marketable skills. Where is this nation-wide programme?
The Coalition promised to create a special Youth Fund, in part, to facilitate a smooth transition from classroom to workplace. There has been no smooth transition from school to work.
The Coalition Government has failed in the area of job creation. Instead of creating jobs for young people, the government changed its tune to say that its role is not to provide jobs, but to facilitate the creation of these jobs. But where then are the pro-private sector policies to boost job creation?
Businesses are complaining about a slowdown in commerce. Right now, it’s the Cubans who are keeping the commercial sector afloat, and it is mainly the Chinese-owned stores which are cashing in on the thriving trade with Cubans.
The government’s answer is self-employment into snack foods – plantain chips and breadfruit chips. No one wishes to belittle those who produce these products, but where are the young people going to find the money to start up production and to find the markets for these products?
The local market is saturated with chips. There are hundreds of persons who, long before this government came into office, were selling their snack foods outside of schools, in shops, and at road corners. There is a limit to how much the production of these products can be expanded.
Young people need jobs where they can learn skills and earn enough to save, so that one day they can start up their own businesses. You cannot ask them to start up their own businesses without any working experience or equity capital.
The government inherited a youth unemployment problem and has made itworse. And this should not have been, because the PPPC left investments and plans in place, which could have solved the problem.
Donald Ramotar is often ridiculed, but it was his government, which came up with the plan to solve the unemployment problem by creating jobs through the expansion of information communications technology. The major expansion of Qualfon and the coming to Guyana of Teleperformance occurred under his government. These two companies have created thousands of new jobs. Ramotar had bigger plans to expand this programme to other areas in Guyana, including to Linden, and it was envisaged that 10,000 jobs (a bit ambitious) would have been created.
The Coalition Government did not run with that programme. Instead, it is more concerned with providing internet access across Guyana, without any corresponding expansion in new ICT-related jobs.
Young investors are being frustrated. A young investor has the equipment in place to open a casino which will immediately create 300 new jobs for young people, but his application for a licence is languishing in the bureaucracy while young people are scouring for jobs.
Young people are being left by the wayside. They will therefore turn up in their numbers looking for jobs at any new business, such as MovieTowne. But guess what? The owner of that entity has clearly said that he will not be opening until after the elections. The wait continues.
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