World Youth Skills Day

Today, July 15, has been designated World Youth Skills Day. We celebrate Guyana’s young people today; more specifically, the youths who, although not academically inclined, are gifted in innumerable ways with skills that enrich societies and the family of mankind.
It is an ineluctable fact that education and economic growth are interlinked within the societal psyche. However, it is a popular but erroneous perception that education is merely a matter of academic pursuits. Before the existence of schools and colleges, ancient civilisations built magnificent monuments that – literally and figuratively – celebrate the stupendous contributions of persons, especially youthful persons who built cities with prodigious strength, primitive implements, and material not bonded with cement; who documented histories and texts without computers or typewriters, or even pens or paper; who created exquisite music with basic instruments; whose phenomenal artistic work still adorn caves and historical landmark sites; who created cooking methodologies that still enrich modern-day cuisines; whose wine-making skills have contributed to beverages of various palatable diversities of taste; whose story-telling songs still resonate in the souls of global mankind; whose rich story-telling weaves still hang in palaces and castles; and farmers without formal education have, over centuries, fed mankind from the beginning of humankind’s sojourn on earth.
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is predicated on a well sustained economy, so critical to enhancement of social developmental paradigms. Skills development in a youthful population is crucial, and the Government of Guyana has become a primary enabler of youthful endeavour and achievements.
Guyana is blessed with innumerable natural resources, but the sciences and knowledge that initially developed the various manufacturing, extractive, trading, business, and productive sectors did not all come from schools and colleges, but from trial and error of pioneering adventurers who are/were among Guyana’s entrepreneurial giants – some who never owned shoes until their adult years.
So, while scholars are significantly important, it is the imperative necessity of enhancing and increasing skill sets in young minds not inclined to academia that is being addressed by Government.
A skills bank is needed to implement ideas that synchronise with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, to ensure viability in national economies.
The budgetary estimates of $60.7 billion for 2021 create fiscal space for additional and improved initiatives to access educational and skills training opportunities – up to tertiary levels, for young people with varying interests – all ultimately possessing potential for contributing immensely to personal and national development and economic growth.
The Education Ministry has been innovative in dealing with the multiplicity of challenges emerging from the pandemic with its online study programmes and scholarships, especially through smart classrooms. Technological advancements have equipped the Guyana Learning Channel, which has been upgraded to facilitate improvement in the quality of education, along with other educational and skills training opportunities it proffers through other online applications targeting rural areas and hinterland regions.
The National Youth Empowerment Programme which targets early school-leavers, which was initiated under the purview of the Labour Ministry and is being executed by the Board of Industrial Training (BIT), has helped thousands of Guyanese people in several skill areas, such as carpentry, electrical installation, Information Technology, masonry, among a plethora of others. These programmes are affording the youthful population opportunities to enhance and acquire competencies in a variety of technical and vocational fields, with a stipend to offset related expenses.
The new oil and gas economy offers tremendous opportunities for employment as various sub-sectors emerge, necessitating a multiplicity of requisite skills to power the economy to optimum potential of development. This is also true for the service sector, as the hospitality industry is expanding rapidly. It is therefore commendable that institutions such as the Government Technical Institute, New Amsterdam Technical Institute, Guyana Industrial Training Centre and other technical training institutions are facilitating a drive to enhance and upgrade the delivery of technical and vocational education in the country.