By Leonard Gildarie
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being patriotic. There is absolutely nothing wrong in demanding that you want a piece of your country. We should also be cognizant of the world which is swiftly changing.
There was a time that our people were desperate to leave here, especially for the US and Canada. We can find Guyanese in almost every country in the world.
It is believed that at least 300,000 Guyanese live in the US alone. Some will tell you it is upwards of 500,000. All across the Caribbean, and in Suriname, you can find thousands of Guyanese residing. We can cross to the United Kingdom where thousands live too.
At one time, families migrated and even paid large sums, sometimes as much as $2M, to get across to the US. In the last decade, however, the US has been more accommodating, with the number of visitor visas granted, jumping overnight.
The lure of the US, especially, has worn off. While a fraction of Guyanese overstay, thus voiding their visas, the majority are coming back home after vacations. There are reasons. It is not a cake-walk when you live illegally in the US. It has become harder to get regularized.
In fact, it is true that the US embassies across the world have made serious money from the processing of visas. These are essential services. No government wants to run without earning revenues.
I raise the scenarios above as there is something happening in Guyana that demands our attention.
My attention was drawn to two advertisements in Kaieteur News on Friday. Both were advertisement of vacancies for work at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the main port of entry for the country.
One was for a ‘Bi-Lingual Airport Ramp and Cleaning Agent’ while the other was for a ‘Bi-Lingual Airport Passenger Service Agent’.
With regard to the former, the main responsibilities for the ‘Ramp and Cleaning Agent’ is to marshall the aircraft during arrival and departure, unload passenger luggage and cargo, drive and operate ground support equipment and collect and load mail, live animals, wheelchairs and strollers.
The agent will have to provide professional and efficient aircraft cleaning services.
The advertisement asked that the applicant provide a valid driver’s licence and, here is the kicker, possess excellent communication skills, written and verbal, in English and Spanish. Additional languages is desirable. The worker will be required to lift heavy objects.
The other advertisement is interesting as well. The ‘Passenger Service Agent’ is required to inspect and verify passengers’ documents, and issue boarding passes and even reschedule passengers when there are delays.
The agent’s other duties will include directing passengers through Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine and even make public announcements. Again, the applicant is required to possess excellent communication skills, written and verbal, in English and Spanish.
I was able to verify that it is not the airport which will be hiring. Rather, it appears to be a recruitment entity that has been hired by one of the new airlines from the US that is expected to come here within months.
Do we really understand what is happening here? How many Guyanese do we know who would want the jobs as listed above and can speak Spanish?
It is true that in the last four years, all eyes have been on Guyana because of oil.
The Marriott is booked to the hilt. We have flights that are filled and a number of new airlines have come. American Airlines is here, flying Miami and New York.
In a few weeks, Eastern Airlines, which evolved from the troubled Dynamic Airways, will start on its New York route.
Jet Blue, which boasts low cost tickets, is coming too. It is all happening
We are being demanded to offer specialized services. There is need for training, and plenty too.
I am interested to know why there is need for Spanish. Why not French and Portuguese and Hindi and Mandarin?
It is time we wake up and understand the changes that are coming.
There are many Guyanese who have come back from Venezuela and fit the bill as mentioned above. We cannot sit by and wait. No one is going to swing by our home and plead for us to come to work.
We have to get in tune if it is the intention to be part of the changes.
Indeed, there has to be clarity from our powers that be, explaining to our people what is expected.
There is a huge disconnect between the education system and the oil and gas sector.
Before we reject this, we would be in good standing to cast our eyes to see what Trinidad and Tobago has done when it comes to training and scholarships, and programmes for its people when it comes to oil and gas.
We have to, in a hurry, brainstorm and partner, and invest more in education.
In the meantime, there will be more of the above and we need to stay woke if we intend to go with the tide. It is either that or we remain in the past.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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