There is currently a draft policy framework entitled “National Youth Policy of Guyana”, which speaks to the commitment by the Guyanese Government to honour its pledge made to the Commonwealth Youth Programme through the Commonwealth Youth Ministers’ meeting held as far back as 1994 to develop, along with other Caribbean countries, a national youth policy.
The draft document acknowledged that a constant refrain was that the education system needs reform – yet, specific policy initiatives were not forthcoming. To this end, the authors of the document having examined trends in educational programmes at the international and regional levels – the policy seeks to ensure that the following initiatives be pursued:
* That existing internship programmes be strengthened and in particular a specific youth attachment and internship programme at the secondary school and university level phases of education be designed;
* Competitions that focuses on literary, creative writing and animation skills for young people and that the products of such competitions be used to enhance the marketability of the creators;
* Wider exposure to technical and vocational training tied to enterprise development be an ongoing responsibility of the Ministries responsible for youth and education;
* A special youth agricultural programme that provides certification and attachment functions and be tied to existing agricultural projects;
* A programme that connects agriculture and care of the environment for youth at school and youth in business be developed as an ongoing activity; and
* Training in customer care, service and network building.
Moreover, it is noteworthy to highlight that the document also acknowledged the notion that not much is available to young Guyanese in respect of business development programmes and assistance – noting that other Caribbean countries provide enterprise development assistance programmes directed at young people including business advice, preparation of business plans, grants and soft loans. Though some of these services are provided by various agencies across Guyana, the policy recommends that existing programmes across the region be examined and a model that can satisfy the uniqueness of Guyana be developed in consultation with the youths of Guyana.
Against these backgrounds, education is critical to creating a competitive economy. Nelson Mandela once said, “Without education, your children can never really meet the challenges they will face.” Therefore, it is important to consider whether the educational system is aligned with the current and future needs of the economy.
Many young people in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU) cannot find employment. This has become particularly acute since the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis. Evidence shows that the unemployed are unhappier, more likely to experience a range of health issues, and face difficulties integrating back into the labour market. Evidence also suggests that a spell of youth unemployment increases the likelihood of poorer wages and unemployment in later life (Blanchflower and Oswald, 1998). Such outcomes also have pronounced social costs. It represents a loss of potential output and leads to increased costs to the taxpayer. Henceforth, one potentially good way of integrating young people into the labour market is to increase youth entrepreneurship. Becoming an entrepreneur potentially offers benefits to the young people through deepening their human capital attributes (self-reliance, skills development) and increasing their levels of happiness (Blancfflower and Oswald, 1998).
Entrepreneurs create jobs, increase innovation, raise competition and are responsive to changing economic opportunities and trends – in addition to offering positive externalities.
The way forward: Education
* Countries need to target skills development through improving the quality of education and training systems;
* There is a need for better training programmes and Private Sector incentive schemes that help to fill the skills gap and to improve employability among youth;
* Better tailored programmes are more successful in meeting the needs and abilities of specific groups;
* A combination of subsidised work experience and vocational training is a good strategy to deal with youth unemployment
* A degree of obligation is desirable to maintain attachment to the labour market
The way forward: Entrepreneurship
Work more closely with the Private Sector to support programmes to disseminate entrepreneurship skills and to assist marginalised people to become entrepreneurs:
• Create incentives for the Private Sector to integrate youth entrepreneurs into value chains
• Improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem:
1. Entrepreneurship training
2. Simplify procedures for starting and doing businesses
3. Make national policies more youth oriented, including labour market regulations
4. Support innovation
5. Better access to financial market (innovative financial products)
The way forward: Macroeconomic level
Countries should adopt new industrial policy that could promote global competitiveness and labour-intensive growth. In order to do so, the creation of effective engines for higher sustainable growth becomes necessary to create adequate jobs for youth. And, finally, invest in the key areas and underprivileged regions could, address regional inequality, release pressure on the big cities, and improve labour market efficiency (UN, 2017).