The Ministry of Natural Resources yesterday held an orientation for its first batch of apprentices under a youth programme that will run for three weeks.
Over the next three weeks, 16 young people, aged 15 to 18 and who come from across the country, will be undergoing training and exposure to field work throughout the length and breadth of Guyana under the Youth in Natural Resources programme.
Speaking at the orientation in the boardroom of the ministry, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman told the gathering that he and his team at the ministry are excited about the initiative, which would expose the youth to the country and the benefits of the natural resources sector. “The Youth in Natural Resources programme is to let you see that there is virtue in the extractive industries…,” the minister said, while adding that it will also allow them to appreciate what the country has to offer. He also hoped that by meeting new people while they travel, their love for the country would grow.
Trotman said that with the ministry overseeing the extractive industries, including mining and forestry, people tend to take a view that it is depleting the country’s resources and polluting the atmosphere.
However, he emphasised that what the ministry is working towards is ensuring a healthy balance between the extractive industries and the environment. “…How can we sustainably remove ores and gold and diamond from the soil and still replant and ensure a forest grows again? How can we work in a community and not pollute the rivers and ensure the communities that interact with miners and loggers are left in a healthy state? …We are working to provide that balance in this ministry,” he said. “Mining for Bauxite is a wholesome endeavor; it brings foreign exchange to the country, it allows young people to grow up and be engineers and chemists…. Mining for gold is a good endeavor; it brings again well-earned foreign currency for the country but it also gives jobs and empowerment to people… we want you to see that the two are not working against each other but we can work them together,” Trotman added.
According to project officer Lourianne Pluck, the apprenticeship programme is the brainchild of the minister and through it the ministry is seeking to give back to the communities, especially the youths. “The system needs the youth, we need them and this is just the beginning of many other youth initiatives,” Pluck said.
Under the programme, she explained, the youth apprentices will be engaging in mentorship programmes and beautification exercises. They will also be visiting the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Guyana Gold Board and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission as well as mining operations, the ExxonMobil Wharf and Iwokrama, among other places.
Some of the sponsors of the programme, as identified by the minister, are ExxonMobil, MACORP, Farfan and Mendes, Aurora Gold Mines and Bosai Minerals.
At the end of the programme, the youth apprentices will be awarded with certificates of participation.