The Government of Guyana will continue with a variety of programmes to target youth unemployment in 2017.

Among those programmes identified are the Youth Entrepreneurial Skills Training (YEST), the Sustainable Livelihoods and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) initiative which has been allocated $100M; the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) which has been allocated $991M and the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) platform for certified training for out-of-school 20161201

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, during the presentation of the 2017 National Budget on Monday, said that youths make up approximately 20 percent of the population, and if the Government wants to ensure that Guyana has well equipped independent, viable, and productive members of society, then it has to ensure that there are strategic interventions to support this vital demographic group.

“Job creation, while providing the necessary allocation to enhance educational and entrepreneurial opportunities, with the right knowledge and skills, our youth can become self-dependent, contributing to an expansion in the gross domestic product and household incomes while reducing unemployment,” Minister Jordan said.

The Finance Minister also stated that in 2017, the Government will complete training for the first cohort of students, who will receive grants upon submission of viable business proposals. A second cohort of over 1,000 youth throughout the hinterland regions will be engaged. These trained youth are intended to use their newly acquired skills to develop sustainable business ventures to benefit themselves and their communities.

Minister Jordan told the National Assembly that the Government is concerned about the hundreds of out-of-school youth, who, in their thirst for knowledge and certification, get trained in non-certified programmes. He noted that this year the Government will be upgrading the CVQ certification, which will enable young people to be more employable in the job market, both within Guyana and across the region, and encourage continuous professional development.

Minister Jordan told the National Assembly, a Youth Innovation Fund (YIF) will provide a financing platform to launch exceptionally innovative ideas, harnessing the energetic and creative minds of young people. The criteria for accessing this programme are still being finalised.

The fund will be overseen by a multi-stakeholder steering committee, and will be endowed, initially, with a sum of $50M with the intention of supporting successful start-up applicants.

In 2016, the Government continued its work under the HEYS project, which was launched as part of its Plan of Action for Hinterland Development. The programme, which was designed to engage the youth population, and improve their entrepreneurial skills, trained 1,976 youth, consisting of 579 males and 1,397 females, in areas of joinery, masonry, auto mechanic, electrical engineering, craft, and information technology.