Presidential candidate of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Brigadier (ret) David Granger has challenged Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir’s claim that Guyana’s unemployment rate had fallen from 11.7 to 10.7 per cent.
Granger is contending that there are no reliable unemployment statistics and Guyana’s Household Income and Expenditure Survey which was undertaken more than a decade ago had disclosed that “about half of the population” was not gainfully employed, APNU said in a press release.
APNU asserted that many who would like to work are not actively seeking jobs simply because they have no hope of finding suitable occupations, while others are earning incomes that condemn them to living below the poverty line.
APNU made reference to the report of the Caricom Commission on Youth Deve-lopment, ‘Eye on the Future: Invest in Youth Now for the Community Tomorrow,’ which noted, among other things, that the primary education dropout rate was “at a staggering height.” Also, at an average of 23 per cent, joblessness among young people in the Caribbean Community was higher than many other developed and developing countries.
APNU said it is convinced that the central issue affecting young people in Guyana is still one of unemployment.
“The Government of Guyana’s initiatives – the President’s Youth Choice Initiative; the President’s Youth Award: Republic of Guyana Programme and the National Training Programme for Youth Empowerment – have not significantly alleviated the pressure of youth unemployment,” APNU said.
Meanwhile, Granger bemoaned the fact that many youths leave school unskilled, enter the workforce and are obliged to resort to low-paying occupations.
The release said further that the unemployed in the rural areas have turned to self-employed agriculture or work as farm labourers while unemployed women in urban areas become low-earning domestic servants. Moreover, unemployed youths, with few jobs available for which they are adequately trained, have to fend for themselves.
According to Granger, the high incidence of unemployment and under-employment in Guyana was caused by the inadequacy of the system of technical and vocational education. The educational system, he noted, produces too many entrants into the labour force who are functionally illiterate.
And APNU insisted that the PPP/C administration has no policy framework to promote youth employment and there have been no consistent efforts to address the concerns of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises to provide jobs for young people.
After 19 years in office, the PPP/C has done little to solve the problem of youth unemployment on the coastland and in the hinterland, APNU concluded.