Kaieteur News – On a recent tour of a ward in the city, the President was approached and told that there are a lot of young men in the area who have a talent but are not working. The President asked about numbers and he was told that there were more than fifty such persons in that area.
The President then told the person who approached him to bring together the young men who had construction skills. He promised that on Tuesday last, the Government would meet with them and incorporate them into the Government’s housing construction programme and into works in the community. There has been no public report about the outcome of that meeting with the young persons who were supposed to have been mobilised to work in the construction sector. But it is more than likely that, if there was such a meeting, that far less than fifty persons would have turned up for that meeting.
Guyanese, including Opposition Politicians, are keen to lament the number of young people who are unemployed in the country, but they fail to make a distinction between those who are not working and those who are actively seeking jobs. The unemployment rate in a country refers to those who are not employed but who are actively seeking jobs. This rate does not include those who are unemployed but who are not seeking jobs. In Guyana, we have both kinds. We have persons without jobs but who are looking for work, and we have those who are out of work but are not interested in working. The latter consists of persons, qualified and unqualified, skilled and unskilled, who are not interested in working.
For many either the pay is too small or the work too hard. But for most it is a case that they can get by without having to find a formal job. Why work when there is Ma and Pa to provide. If you go through the many communities in Guyana, you will find a great many young people who prefer to not work. Their parents and guardians cover them with three square meals and they are happy with that. There are thousands of young people who quite happy not working. They get by and they are not starving. On the other hand, each year thousands of young persons over the age of 15 years leave school and struggle to find decent employment
The problem of persons not keen to work is not confined to the poor. There are some children of very rich parents who see no reason why they should work or even pursue higher studies. They feel very comfortable staying at home and living off of their parents sweat. It would therefore be interesting to know just how many of the promised fifty-odd skilled young persons turned up last Tuesday to be involved in working in the government’s housing programme or in physical enhancement work in their communities. This would give the Government a fair idea as to the nature of the problem concerning unemployed youth.
From time immemorial, when children did not do well in school-leaving examinations, their parents would suggest that they should get a skill. Their parents would encourage them to enroll in technical and vocational studies or to seek apprenticeships in various workshops at which they can acquire a skill. But the type of skills which are demanded of the modern day workforce today cannot always follow that script. The experience of technical training institutions is that unless entrants have a basic academic foundation they will not be able to master the technical knowledge. For example, to be become a Certified Mechanic or Electrician, you have to have sound grounding in mathematics and physics. Technical courses therefore are not necessarily for those who have failed to achieve a sound education. And because of the high failure rate of youths at technical education, a great many of our young people end up being forced to work as Labourers to make a hustle as vendors. In other words, the social problems associated with the lack of employment, is linked to the failures of our education system as much as it is to the lack of sufficient suitable jobs. Each year, half of all students fail the end grade examinations at primary and secondary school. Our education system is turning out mass failures. And as most employers can attest, there are vacancies available. But finding the right persons for the job is harder than advanced calculus.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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