With over 4,000 ex-sugar workers now without a job, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is hoping to complete the training of 2,000 of them by the end of the year.
The sugar company is currently implementing its Alternative Livelihood Initiative, which is part of its Sustainable Communities Development Programme for workers and residents of sugar-dependent communities.
The retrenched workers are being provided with the opportunity to be retrained in various vocational skills, such as sewing, catering, cosmetology, masonry, electrician, mechanic, carpentry, plumbing, farming, computer repairs, massage therapist, management, proposal writing, brush-cutting and excavating.
Speaking to Sunday Stabroek, GuySuCo spokesperson Audreyanna Thomas pointed out that so far the corporation has facilitated the training of over 300 ex-employees from Wales and Enmore in sewing, catering and other skills, and will be commencing training in plumbing, carpentry, masonry, and joinery from Monday.
“Enmore, in particular, was very successful. We had a meeting with them to tell them that we are starting the programme—specifically the persons who indicated that they wanted to be [trained] in those areas and they were just happy to know that we’re finally starting the course. One of the [former] employees said that he is happy that GuySuCo is doing this because he didn’t expect that all of this to be done in terms of retraining and other opportunities,” Thomas said.
In terms of a goal, she indicated that out of the 4,000 plus employees who have been retrenched, they are hoping to complete the retraining of at least 2,000 of the retrenched workers. She also added that she hopes the programme will create a national blueprint and assist in developing a “moving on” strategy.
She said the hope is for the programme to continue running for more than two years and it will be used to develop a plan for transitioning communities.
“…A national process or a national blueprint that will become institutionalised within the relevant government agencies so that they can have a partnership [with communities] the same way we have. So what we are doing now is that we are developing a blueprint and a partnership and a moving on strategy so that it is applicable for anything else that comes along,” Thomas said, while stating that the company also hopes that the plan will also have regional and international applications for a formal system.
She also highlighted that they are currently training persons in Wales to be able to train former workers in coconut cropping and other agriculture practices. As part of the programme, they will also be working alongside some of the employees to transition them into farmers. This programme is being done in collaboration with the EU, who assisted GuySuCo with some consultants who developed the approach.
“They developed the approach for transitioning the employees to trainers to train persons, and the training of trainers is ongoing. They are doing citrus and coconut and learning how to plan and how to train people in the agricultural methodology, as it relates to that,” Thomas noted, while stating that they have also trained persons in marketing so they will “not only be giving people lands” but will also be assisting them in acquiring the knowledge to run a successful business.