President David Granger has said that his Government is committed to working towards the provision of an enabling environment for job creation for young Guyanese and is taking an active role in ensuring sustainable gainful employment.
His comments came just days after he categorically stated on the latest edition of his weekly interview programme, Public Interest, that it was not government’s responsibility to produce jobs. That remark was in stark contrast to a statement in the 2015 APNU+AFC general elections campaign manifesto that states that “The aim of your new government is to create jobs, jobs and more jobs in the shortest time possible. Our young people cannot wait “five more years” for jobs for which they could be adequately trained and could get better pay and greater job satisfaction.”
The President, in an invited comment, Sunday evening, said that the Government’s role is vital in the creation of employment for young people. He noted that this role is particularly based on sound education systems and this is the best possible start any government can give young people to ensure that they get to school and receive the type of education, which can ultimately prepare them for the world of work.
“In some cases we have had drop outs. As far as I am concerned, too many drop outs but even so, we are putting more emphasis on more technical and vocational education and soon measures will be introduced in the National Assembly to explain our youth policy and of course, let education be the centre piece of the youth policy. So as far as Government is concerned, in the first instance, it must pay more attention to the traditional educational system and second, to get more young people into the technical and vocational training,” the President said.
But while education is a key part of getting the youth population to work, the President understands that in order for the private sector to be an engine of economic growth, government must play a role in ensuring that an environment that allows businesses to thrive is available.
He said, “The Government has to work with the private sector. There is no way that the Government could give each and every person a job. What the Government does is create a facilitating environment and by working with civil society, by working with employers, and by introducing policies which facilitate the type of job creation that we expect…so Government is not going to sit on its hands and allow young people to remain unemployed. Government is going to be an active participant to help young people to get into the world of work.”
Questioned on the role the education can play over time as a driver for the economy, the President said that there are two main areas in which educated young people would move more easily and more smoothly into self-employment.
“One of course is in the field of Information technology. I would say that Government has started to make strides. We have created the Ministry of Public Telecommunications and we will provide the facilities for more young people to get access to the information super highway. Information is important. The other thing is that young people have to get the opportunity to go into private enterprise and fields like agro-processing and this will be one of the areas in both the hinterland and coastland in which young people could get this new technology so that from the time they leave school, they will be able to enter into some form of private enterprise,” the President said.
In fact, the Head of State believes that job seekers must look beyond Government jobs and aim to be creators of their own wealth.
The President said, “I would discourage young people from seeking state employment because it is what one person once called employee poverty. The salaries are low and the possibilities are limited but an educated person is more likely to be innovative so there are many fields educated people can go into…so young entrepreneurs who are innovative and who can access information technology and likely to move ahead and Government can become facilitators in these fields.”
In addition to creating the enabling environment for the creation of jobs, President Granger said that the young people can also expect efforts on the part of his Government, in the promotion and marketing of products, especially agricultural and value added products regionally.
He noted that these efforts can be seen in one of the mandates, which has been laid out for the newly appointed Foreign Service Officers, where they have been tasked with the promotion and marketing of Guyana’s products and investment potential.
“Much of our agricultural produce, fish, vegetables, fruits, preserves can be sold in the Eastern Caribbean and its Government’s job to open those doors to new marketing opportunities through CSME [CARICOM Single Market and Economy]. So we have a role to play in helping bonafide producers to get their products sold. We need to develop not only the services but we also need to develop products. In saying that, there are many areas in which Guyana has an advantage over Caribbean countries in terms of value added products… Government must have a type of education policy, which allows young people to go into these new fields and that’s the way we can open doors to new markets,” he said.