Seventy-nine at-risk youths from four targeted communities in Georgetown on Wednesday successfully completed a nine-month skills training programme.
The programme is being implemented by the Volunteer Youth Corps Workforce Development Programme of the US AID which aims to reduce crime and violence by providing access to employment through skills training.
Proud parents of the students cheered them on at their graduation ceremony which was held at the Georgetown Club on Camp Street.
In 2018, the International Labour Organisation estimated youth unemployment to be almost 23% in Guyana and according to the CARICOM Secretariat, 80% of prosecuted crimes are committed by youths between the ages of 19 and 29.
Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Georgetown, Mark Cullinane delivered the keynote address at the ceremony and assured that the US Embassy will continue to partner with Guyana in youth development.
“We want to reiterate the US Embassy’s enthusiasm and continued commitment to partner with the private sector to unlock the country’s greatest asset-the vast potential of youth,” Cullinane said.
The programme caters for eighty at-risk youths from East la Penitence, Lodge, East Ruimveldt and Sohpia between the ages of 18 and 29.
Chief Executive Officer for the Volunteer Youth Corps, Goldie Scott said the students were involved in two months of basic life skills training; the students were then enrolled at the Georgetown Technical Institute to develop technical skills for the remaining seven months.
“The at-risk youths were selected based on a number of things, we have a profile -52% of the persons recruited were females, while the remainder a slight minority of 48% being male, 58% completed high school and 18.5% received vocational education and 48% were school dropouts; 14% were employed at the time of enrollment, 86% were unemployed and 7% were in conflict with the law for minor offences,” Scott said.
The next phase of the programme will be focusing on job placement within the next few months.
“This new phase that we are currently embarking on is to ensure that we collaborate with the private sector and other sectors to place these students who have been trained in jobs,” Scott said.
Meanwhile, the top graduating student in motor vehicle repairs, Roydon Johnson said he wants to continue training so he can further develop his mechanical skills.
Johnson said, “Everything happens for the best and I kind of good at this stuff but I am happy that I make it to the top and it encourage me to keep going until I reach my righted place.”
Another student, Loresia Haynes encouraged other youths to go after their dreams no matter how hard it may seem.
“Go for your dreams, go for your goals no matter how hard it is, you just think about –this is what I want and this is what I want to achieve- no one says that is not gonna be tough, you are going to find complications but do not give up on your dreams because at the end of it when you receive your success…its gonna be amazing,” Haynes said.