Youths need jobs and training to stave off mental health issues

Dear Editor,
According to media reports, the Department of Youth plans to launch a ‘job readiness training’ initiative for youths to better ease them into the workforce. While the reasons given for such an initiative have merit, The Caribbean Voice would like to point out that job readiness training can only be capitalised upon if jobs are readily available.
Our own experiences indicate that this is not so. Over the last two years or so, young people in Guyana have bombarded TCV with requests for jobs. Unfortunately, as a fully volunteer-driven NGO, TCV cannot offer jobs. And there seems to be no mechanism in place to refer them for consideration. As well, the businesses and business entities we touch base with are not able to generate vacancies to meet the needs.
Besides, at the Department’s recent job fair, more than 600 youths were in attendance, but the Department indicated that only about 200 youths were being catered for. And the Minister for youth affairs (among other portfolios), Dr George Norton, has expressed concern that 40 per cent of youths are unemployed.
Our overriding concern is that most of those looking for jobs become overly anxious and depressed with some moving on to suicide ideation. TCV knows this because we have handled many such cases. Thus, we appeal to the Department of Youth to set up and widely publicise a mechanism that can easily and quickly offer job placements for young people across Guyana. That mechanism can include a component that facilitates placements of vacancies and matches young people seeking jobs with vacancies for which they are suited. As well, it is our hope that job readiness training would be offered across Guyana, as many of those young people (in all ten regions) seeking jobs have no marketable skills, which compounds their plight.
On another youth-related matter, while lauding the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) programme, The Caribbean Voice, for the past few years, has been advocating for mental health to be included in the training so that those equipped with skills for advancement would also be prepared to deal with challenges and any form of abuse that comes their way without retreating to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. This necessity becomes all the more critical given that young people, 15-25, still exhibit the highest suicide rate in Guyana and that both suicide and various forms of abuse saturate hinterland communities. In fact, most of our counselling cases have been young people within this age bracket.
While we acknowledge the successes of HEYS as put out by the Government, no data has ever been publicised as to the actual failure rate. If indeed, the success rate is 100 per cent that would be fabulous but since generally that is never the case, the issues that impact failure ought to be addressed, as we are certain that mental health issues would loom large in such situations. In any case, even those who succeed can also benefit for positive mental health training, especially acquisition of coping skills, the ability to face and overcome challenges and to self-forgive, the development of high self-esteem and self-confidence.

The Caribbean Voice