President Ali had to point out the contradiction in all economies that are taking off or reorienting their economic bases. There are job openings all across the country in the infrastructural and construction industries, but the contractors can’t get bodies qualified to fill those jobs. This isn’t surprising, cause it’s not rocket science, and the phenomenon was noticeable for the last hundred years. When the horse and buggy were being replaced by motor cars, all those craftsmen in leather and wood weren’t willing to just stand around like robots at assembly lines!!
There was therefore a disjuncture between the horse-and-buggy workers becoming unemployed and car assembly line workers getting employed. For, usually, they weren’t the same bodies. And herein lies the challenge for us. Here, most of our workers are unskilled, labourers in agricultural pursuits, or are unemployed. This includes those seven thousand workers the PNC threw onto the breadline. The instance of the 200 workers displaced when the sugar packaging plant was transferred to Berbice is a good example. The Government has worked with the new metal fabrication plant owners, who’ll try to retrain the displaced workers. But frankly, it’s unlikely there’s gonna be a neat “cancel and replace” operation.
What should’ve happened is that, the moment oil was struck, the PNC should’ve started training programmes across the country to cater to industrialisation and infrastructural development. But they never looked beyond pandering to their already employed base in the Public Service. The PPP has started the GOAL programme, but this is generally “book learning”. While this is important, it has to be matched with a massive expansion of the technical-vocational and educational training (TVET) that we’ve had for years. These are presently transmitted in technical institutes in each of the three counties, and must be cloned quickly.
The Private Sector should also step in – as has happened in other counties. The Government should pay the fees for students that are accepted. Now TVET should also include training to cater to the new lifestyle that will come with higher incomes. Take air conditioning: this will move from being a luxury to a necessity – as in Florida, for instance. Who’s gonna repair all those ACs when they conk out?? And they WILL conk out – with all manufacturers sticking to the strategy of “planned obsolescence”!! And more motor mechanics. Wiring for electrical connections and smart connectivity would have to be raised to a new level.
In the meantime, we should be very careful about importing “guest workers”, as we know from our own “back-track” experience to other countries, these “guest” workers would never leave.
And we have enough problems already with antagonistic groups!
If it’s one thing we can’t get enough of, it’s prayers for our country. Since a country’s really its people, these prayers are really for ourselves. For hundreds of years, we blamed the European colonials for raping our wealth and keeping us barefooted and hungry. But independence hasn’t made things better, has it? Maybe things have gotten worse? And we know a house divided would certainly fall. Very early on, we tried working together to get rid of the Europeans, but Burnham and the PNC scuttled THAT even before independence.
And to cling to power, they made us endure twenty loooong years of dictatorship, wherein he used the armed forces to suppress us…and inevitably widened the fissures. Then came twenty-three years of the PPP, wherein the complaint was “only one side ruling”. And that’s now the mantra with successive PNC and now PPP administrations.
So, prayers certainly can’t hurt. President Ali’s “National Day of Prayer” this Friday prays that the country that prays together stays together.
As your Eyewitness predicted, the accusations by the Ukrainians and the West that the Russians killed civilians at Bucharest have now been countered by the Ruskies, that it was the Ukrainians who did the dirty so they’d be blamed.
Truth is the first casualty of war!!