Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh was reported to’ve called on our youths to prepare themselves to take advantage of our growing economy – heralded as the highest growth rate in the world at 40 per cent! Noting that most might be considering qualifying themselves academically or technically for JOBS, he advised youths to consider becoming their own bosses as ENTREPRENEURS. That is, to identify some need or other in the world and open up businesses to satisfy those needs – whether in services or goods.
This is a very timely call since at the very max, the much-touted “local content” for the petroleum industry (the source of the 40% growth) will only amount to a few thousand jobs. And while these are welcome, let’s be honest and accept that they’ll be low-level grunts at best in the near term. Because the oil industry is contracting faster than a collapsing supernova, there are foreign experts galore who’re competing for the highly skilled jobs. Unless we have some kind of legislation that COMPELS the Oil Majors to train locals for high-level jobs, they’ll take the easy path to hire already qualified foreign.
But back to the call for youthful entrepreneurs. Sure, this is the way to go…and not because of our “growing” economy, but because of globalisation: the entire world can now be our market! In fact, if young entrepreneurs are to move beyond generating income exceeding what their peers will earn in the job market, they’ll have to look beyond Guyanese markets. Your Eyewitness’s concern, however, is that youth entrepreneurship in this brave new world will favour (as in the burgeoning online learning industry) their more urbanised cohorts and leave rural and hinterland youths further behind.
So, what’s the solution? Well, the Government will just have to ensure that they shouldn’t just ensure the “training” they’re conducting be extended into those neglected areas, but they should expand the training to exploit identified new business opportunities. There are only so many opportunities in the STEM area that’s receiving so much attention!
Take for example, agricultural diversification, that’s supposed to be the bedrock of us avoiding the dreaded “Dutch Disease”. Can’t the Government have NAREI identify some specific crops – say ginger, turmeric, peppers, lentils, etc – that can be grown on our coast? Then train rural and hinterland youth how to cultivate, process and market the crops? Surely some of the lands on the shuttered estates that are being reopened – but now at a downsized scale – can be allocated to these youths.
Since our youths have been brainwashed to only see “education” for white-collar jobs as the way out and up from poverty, the Government will have to broaden its concept of education to include agro entrepreneurship!
The columnist Ian McDonald recently reminisced that when he was at Cambridge in 1953/54 he met a James Watson. He realised “much later in life” that Watson was the discoverer of the structure of DNA – the basis of life. Even if we didn’t know squat about genetics and DNA a year ago, with COVID-19, and the mad rush to come up with a vaccine to deal with it, we’ve all gotten a crash course on the subject! In 1953, Watson was just 25 years old, but as with most of the scientific discoveries that have changed our world beyond belief, it has been youth that made most of the seminal breakthroughs!
In his old age, Watson controversially asserted a connection between genetics and intelligence to malign Africans.
But to read his “Double Helix” that recounts the discovery of DNA is to share in the exuberance of youth and their capacity to conquer brave new worlds.
It’s rated the 7th greatest non-fiction book of all time!
Just days after young Kyle Mayers miraculously won that Test against Bangladesh for us, 43-year-old Tom Brady led the Tampa Buccaneers to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl.
Youth must be balanced with experience!