By Mesha Sealey
THE Ministry of Natural Resources has selected 50 persons from across Guyana to participate in this year’s Youth in Natural Resources (YNR) apprenticeship programmes.
The selected participants were officially inducted during a simple ceremony at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, on Saturday.
While 50 persons were inducted, the Guyana Chronicle understands that apprentices will be split into two groups of 25.
The YNR programme is one that gives young people the opportunity to experience Guyana’s interior regions, learn about the natural resources sector, and access job opportunities in the sectors.
During his charge to the apprentices, Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, highlighted the importance of natural resources to the country’s economy. He took time to outline the cost of electricity, the earnings from gold mining, and the indirect and direct jobs offered in the sector.
“The Ministry of Natural Resources, and the mining sector, is the sector that has been driving our country over the last couple of years, because we have seen the decline in all the other sectors, especially construction, agriculture, the bauxite industry, and many other industries would have seen a decline.
“But mining, especially gold mining, would have kept our economy going. Maybe you don’t know—or some of you would probably know—that around 2,000 Guyanese depend on gold mining directly or indirectly; whether they work in mining operations, whether they’re miners, or suppliers to the mining camps and miners. But mining, gold mining, contributes significantly to our economy right now,” Minister Bharrat reasoned.
Further, the minister said that one of the aims of the YNR is to generate interest in the natural resources sector at a young age, since this particular sector does not garner public interest.
Although Guyanese are paying more attention to the country’s natural resources because of Guyana’s petroleum sector, the minister said that there is not nearly enough interest in the sector among the youth population.
SCIENCE & TECHNICAL STREAMS
He believes that more youth should be advised to join the science and technical streams, so that they can be better equipped to manage Guyana’s natural resources.
“The Youth in Natural Resources programme is actually to generate interest in natural resources at a young age, because what we would have found over the years, and being a teacher myself, for a number of years, I would have found that a number of young people—the majority of young people—are not going into the science or the technical stream at secondary school,” Minister Bharrat.
The minister said that a lot of students gravitate to other fields of study due to the common perception that business, and ‘arts’ are easier to excel in than technical and science subjects.
“You want to pass a lot of subjects. You say, ‘I don’t want to go in science because science is hard’. Because somebody told you that, or you heard somebody say, ‘Physics is hard. Chemistry is hard. Biology is hard.’ So you do business, accounts, EDPM, HSB, because that’s easier… I don’t believe that those subjects are hard; I believe that as young people, we put a mental block against these subjects,” Minister Bharrat opined, speaking of his experience in the teaching profession.
He urged students to adopt a more determined approach to difficult subjects, and encouraged them to challenge themselves to try areas that may appear daunting to them.
“Maybe it is hard for you, but it is not hard for me. That is the kind of attitude we need to inculcate. When you hear someone say that, you should say, ‘maybe it is hard for you. Maybe it is not hard for me. Let me try it and see for myself’, rather than believe people and set your mind against it,” the minister posited.
He expressed his hope that the YNR programme can help students to not only unlock new potentials and hidden talents, but also be adequately guided towards the realisation of their purpose, and thereby make a contribution to the country.
In the YNR apprenticeship programme, participants will travel through Guyana’s dense rainforest to mining camps in Regions Two and Seven, see for themselves how precious and semi-precious minerals are extracted from the earth, and interact with mentors and professionals who will impart their knowledge and experiences of working in extractive industries, including in the oil and gas sector.
Youth participants will be able to establish corporate links through networking with businesses in the sector and be enrolled as youth ambassadors for natural resources. They will also be given the opportunity to participate in the annual Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC)’s week of activities that focus on the mining sector.
The minister assured participants that strict COVID-19 guidelines would be enforced at every stage of the programme. To this end, digital tablets were distributed to participants to avoid constant physical contact.
To make this programme possible, the Ministry of Natural Resources is collaborating with a number of agencies including IWOKRAMA, Guyana Gold Fields (GGF), Troy Resources, Wood Tech Sawmilling, ExxonMobil, MACORP, CGX, University of Guyana (UG) Science and Technology Department and Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Guyana Technical Institute, Protected Areas Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Guyana School of Agriculture, NAREI, African Business Roundtable, Guyana Forestry Commission, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Guyana Gold Board.