The Government recognises there is an increase in violence and criminal activities among youths, and this they believe is mainly attributed to unemployment among our young people.Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr George NortonIn an exclusive interview with Guyana Times, Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton, said previous research has shown that various behavioural patterns have to do with gainful employment, and whether the youths are constructively employed or are employable.“This”, he said, “plays a major role in delinquent activities, which remain a major issue even after many years of efforts. We still have the problem, and now violence is higher,” he said.Dr. Norton said one of the key projects the administration has undertaken to improve the situation of unemployment is re-establishment of the Guyana Youth Corps, which was launched a few weeks ago at Kuru-Kuru, Linden/Soesdyke Highway.He explained that this is a major project, since it is geared at focusing on NEET (Needs Education Employment and Training).“We deal with the youths that are not in the system of formal education — where they would have gone to primary school, secondary school, or (obtained) tertiary level education, after which they would have been employable — in order to find jobs that are gainful and legal, to make them have a comfortable life,” Dr. Norton stated.He added that, many times, vacancies are advertised asking for years of experience and certain qualifications, and some youths do not meet these requirements, and cannot gain employment.“We’re still dealing with those persons. We are aiming for those who would have dropped out of school, and we have a very high rate of dropouts. We have situations where persons haven’t finished the secondary school, and are unemployable since they are not sufficiently trained; hence they can’t get a job,” he said.Minister Norton pointed out that as a result of this situation, the Ministry is concentrating on offering a lot of vocational training, and a lot of resources and energy are therein being invested.“We are trying to make vocational training at the reach of youths in Guyana,” the minister stated. This will aid in giving youths options, since it has been recognised that there are youths in various communities who are not so capable in literacy and numeracy. Vocational training will offer them an opportunity to reach a certain level, and if they so desire, they can continue in the academic stream.“So, from the Youth Corps, they can end up going for training (at) GTI, GITC and other vocational institutes in the region, and possibly UG,” the Minister noted.He added that from the training the youths will receive from these institutions, they will become employable and work for the level of money that would make their lives comfortable.“And, more importantly, you can get into entrepreneurship and become your own boss. This is what we hope to do. We want to push our young people into this. You can go and receive training; you become employable, or you can start your own business. So this is where we are gearing all our courses,” he said.Minister Norton also pointed out that many of the other ministries have programmes which cater for youth training and empowerment.This is geared at having a comprehensive training programme that is pointing in one direction: vocational training, where youths can reach a common level of being certified and be qualified after examination, thus gaining employment status.“Other than having an ad hoc approach, we are trying to get it organised under one institution or under one ministry. And that is the approach that we have adopted in this national (institution) — the Guyana Youth Corps that we have established,” Norton said.Training at the GYC will focus on a variety of areas in a structured manner. The youths will be involved in apprenticeship programmes wherein they can learn as they work, or work as they learn; and their chances of being employed are much higher than if they are not trained.“It is hoped that getting the youths occupied (at) this level (would) reduce their chances of getting into delinquent activities…hence a reduction in crime and violence,” he said.These youth programmes, the minister noted, have been bearing fruit; and there are success stories. However, he is optimistic that much more value for resources will be achieved when the programmes are better streamlined under the one institution.
"Govt working to tackle unemployment among youths"