The entry-level jobs in Guyana are going to the immigrants for a myriad of reasons. The obvious is that migrants work for less money, are willing to endure harsher conditions as they make the first step on the ladder to success and Guyanese citizens are not aggressively pursuing entry-level jobs. This is a well-known phenomenon in developed countries but Guyana is by no stretch of the imagination close to being considered “developed”. In fact, it was only after years of sustained growth and systematic debt repayment and relief that Guyana moved from being classified as a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) to an Upper Middle-Income country, and that was with the consideration that oil has been discovered in commercially exploitable quantity. The problem would seem to lie with the workforce and Government policy. In this season of political panacea, where in the national discourse is the discussion of this fundamental issue of jobs and future of our youth?
A senior manager at a large foreign conglomerate with expansive operations in Guyana had this to say about youth and employment “Unemployment??? That’s pure unadulterated BS. .. I interview countless young men for jobs and they would tell me the money we are offering can’t mind them…or after they get the job they are often late or absent with a dumb ass excuse of transportation hard. I totally understand that it’s a Government responsibility to create jobs but it’s the people who have to want to jobs that are available”. This sentiment has been repeated by managers and employers in every sector that I asked questions throughout Guyana.
Our country has a problem of colossal proportions, we are not fostering a culture that appreciates a hard work ethic; understanding of the value of a job and its implications for a person’s future wellbeing and security. Guyanese children do not have “holiday” jobs while on school vacation, there are no paper routes for school children, the children who man the “sweetie” stands for parents are the only ones learning that lesson of work equals food and shelter. The affluent and middle-class are making a grievous error in judgment by not encouraging or allowing their offspring to earn through work or enterprise during their formative years. As a child of an affluent father who encouraged every aspect of our development, I can, with pride, talk of lessons learned from “eating the profits” of our boyhood gang’s chicken-rearing business and many other small ventures aimed at earning our own money. These are life lessons learned through trial and errors and are invaluable in the adult world. Given the appetite of some of the members of my youth ‘co-operative’ I can definitively say “partnerships are all too often sinking ships!”
Government too must play its part in this period in our evolution, with no clear policy on immigration in place, our youth that are willing to take entry-level jobs and gain valuable experience are being denied that opportunity. Promises of ‘oil jobs’ after a three-day workshop are folly and electioneering gimmickry, with entry-level jobs going to immigrants and top-level management jobs being filled by ‘expatriates’ what is left for Guyanese? Are we to become a nation of clerks? Clear leadership is needed on this issue and urgently. President Granger has made pronouncements on the issue where he has urged entrepreneurship. What he has not done, is create an enabling environment shaped by policy and helpful actions by the Government.
The youth of our nation must be made aware that we are at a critical juncture in history that affects them most. Young people must ask “Who is looking out for me and my future?” In four years, the Granger Administration has presented no legislation on “local content” for the approval of the National Assembly. You, my young brothers and sisters, are that “local content”, get involved. Absens haeres non erit (an absent person will not be an heir).