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Youth Opportunity Industrial Complexes

Preparing Our Workforce for Tomorrow’s Opportunities

Jobs, Opportunity and the Future


This Policy represents a new and bold perspective of engaging our youth in national development. This policy considers the physiological state of adolescence and young adulthood, and provides the framework for building national pride, entrepreneurship, education, and a work ethic conducive to upward mobility and fulfillment of one’s personal goals.

The introduction of the Opportunity Industrial Complexes services to provide our youth with one possible mechanism for developing the skills necessary for their personal development within the framework of our nation’s goals.  Participation in this initiative is purely voluntary.  Considering the state of our current affairs (youth apathy, rampant unemployment, rising crime, and lack of opportunity) any cost associated with the development of this program dwarfs the cost of maintaining the status quo.

My Campaign Staff deserves my thanks for the patience they have exhibited in assisting with the compilation of this paper. - Faith Harding


One measure of good governance is the way a nation treats its youth. The government of a country is required to put in place effective structures to ensure that its young people fully participate in national and community life. In Guyana, the claim of our young citizens to a bright future is irrefutable yet they exude hopelessness in our county, its political direction and its plan for their participation and progress. For as long as fifteen years they considered themselves literally and deliberately deprived of a future by a government that has kept them in some form of bondage in their country. For young people, it means enormous deprivation just at the very time when they should be looking forward to a full life.

Guyana has a youth population of 276,093 between the ages of 10 and 29 years1.This population represents 36.7 percent of the total resident population of Guyana.  Fifty-three percent of this demographic group has lived their entire life under the current government of Guyana2.

Unfortunately, most of them live in communities bereft of basic services, facilities and commodities and destructive and hostile environments which are compounded by extreme poverty. Also, it is as if the educational system is specifically designed to keep the majority of young people unemployable. The meager training and education that is available, prohibits them from pursuing many avenues of employment. They are growing up in a society, which is in the iron grip of repression. They know arrest and disappearance, shooting down in the streets, their homes and neighbourhoods, torture and death itself. The villages, towns and cities keep the majority of our young people in conditions which are depressing and hopeless. Their health needs are neglected which means that many youths are growing up vastly disadvantaged.

The mismanagement of Guyana and its affairs has left the country with pressing issues of limited human and material resource development, lack of adequate social service facilities, spiraling crime including drug trafficking, and an erosion of trust among ethnic groups. As Francis Fukuyama (1996) argued that, with the erosion of trust in a society, social capital will wither away and die.   Social capital is the glue that binds the human capital together and it provides the cultural networking that reminds us of our duty to society3.

The challenges facing young people are summarized as eight fundamental conditions and problems which include: lack of education and training, unemployment, conflict with the law, crime and risky and unhealthy behavior, lack of participation and social integration, environmental degradation, globalization and poor use of leisure time.

To address these challenges, a holistic approach to engaging the youth of Guyana is required. One in which a human developmental perspective is used as the underlying principle for engaging them in an intertwined, interdependent development of self and nation. One which provides opportunities to explore what interests them through an organizational model designed to foster positive youth development. Some interests are video production, robotics, competitive reading and writing, performing arts, sailing/boating, herpetology, art entrepreneurship, peer court, cooking, leadership, photography, horseback riding, public speaking, sewing, cricket, golf, computers, smart phones, health care professions, scrapbooking, jewelry making, cake decorating, floral arranging, bird training and more.

National Project

This holistic approach is a nation building expedition that will promote within the youth, hope for a good future, the ability to be gainfully employed and skills and abilities for conflict resolution and tolerance. It will ensure their involvement in national construction, the building of communities, in the development of the agricultural, industrial and social sector infrastructure while becoming competent at preventing conflicts and acquiring good self concepts and national pride.

Youth Opportunity Industrious Cooperatives

This holistic approach will be in the form of a national project called Youth Opportunity Industrious Cooperative which will be designed as an Institute with Initiation Clubs in every village and Industrial Complexes in selected areas.  Participation in the activities of the Industrial Complexes is voluntary, and is open to anyone between the ages of 14 and 24 years old but especially to drop outs, school aged mothers, and differently abled children.  Participants will choose a skill area that they would like to develop, and based on this they will be assigned an Industrial Complex for at least 6 months or longer depending on the profession or job skill area which they have chosen.

The main purpose of the Opportunity Industrious Cooperative is planned mobilization of the Guyanese human resources to supplement the education system, to ensure that all Guyanese become aware of the values of our society, understand the relationship between them and the society and be gainfully employed to meet their personal social and economic needs. The huge challenge of unemployment in our country requires creative responses from organized youth, and programmes will be put in place to secure the enthusiasm of the youth, their future generally and active involvement

As an instrument for effecting the transformation from dependency to self reliance, training and development of skills in appropriate instances will be provided; emphasis will be placed on the practical approach in training and provide the opportunity for on-the–job learning.   At the same time the program will enable the government to bring under control the untapped resources of the country in a planned and deliberate fashion.

Within the program a specific responsibility exists to rebuild the relationships between parents and young people and re-establish safe and nurturing environments in families, supporting the psychological, emotional and physical well-being of young men and women and allowing young women and men to develop responsibility for themselves;

The program will recognize the differential manner in which young women and men have been affected by the injustices in our country and the need to address these injustices through equitable policies, programmes and the allocation of resources.

There will be a non-sexist, non-racist approach to the initiatives and programmes, where the socializing influences of gender, race and disability and equal opportunities and treatment based on fundamental human rights for all, is promoted.

Developmentally, some young people at entering adulthood are very prone to experimenting, including with criminal acts. Some young people find themselves with abundant free-time which they cannot use in a constructive way. Some communities tend to have a high tolerance for criminal activity. In such a tolerant environment young people are socialized to think that there is nothing wrong with a life of crime. Young people grow up in an environment, and are themselves victims and live in fear, of crime and bullying in their schools and neighbourhoods. Further, they are seen by the authorities as criminals because of their age and sometimes ethnicity.

Our schools do not inform our youth about the law and information services on legal advice and human rights are not available or young people are not aware of such services where they exist.

Initiation Clubs

Initiation Clubs dispersed throughout Guyana, will bridge the divide between the city and the rural/interior Regions.  They will begin their 1-3 year programs for youth who have attained the age of 13 years and beyond. Where there are schools, the Initiation Clubs will be linked to the schools as afternoon programs. Where there are no schools they will be all day programs initiating the youth into understanding themselves, their peers from different backgrounds, their parents and other adults, their nation and its resources as well as the requirements for the development of the nation. Special activities will be designed for special needs/challenged/disabled youth. The program of the Initiation Clubs for 13 to 15 year old youth will be designed as a 3 year program. For youth older than 15 years the program will be designed as a 1 to 2 year program before moving to the Industrial Complexes. During this period, the youth would be in exchange programs to various regions around the country during certain times of the year depending on the school calendar. Every youth in the program would be expected to have spent at least one week in every region of the nation by the time they complete the Initiation Club program. Through the Clubs’ cultural activities young people can become poets, artistes, sculptors, artists and musicians.

Industrial Complexes

The Industrial Complexes would develop industries indigenous to the area and where possible, introduce new commodity driven industries. For example, large farms would be developed with produce to feed the nation and export indigenous and other products; applied scientific and technological institutes will be carrying out research and development activities, and health centres and other service centres serving the Complexes will be teaching institutions.  In essence, former waste land or unoccupied land would become Industrial Complexes growing food, developing key skills for national construction, designing prefab houses and starting new communities of an industrious population. Integral to all of these would be the cross cutting theme of inculcating the discipline, physical toughness, skills competence, the mental agility, socialization and teamwork to pioneer development and to give some purpose and meaning to the lives of the Guyanese youth.

For example, in a mining area like Mahdia, the Industrial Complex will focus on the attitudes and responsibility taking as well as skills needed for the mining industry, malaria testing, laboratory technician skills, blood pressure and body temperature measurement and other related health sector needs. Below is a matrix indicating the specializations of each Regional Opportunity  Industrious Complex.



Economic Strengths

Opportunity Industrial Complex Specialty

Region I


  • Logging is the main activity
  • Gold and Diamond Mining
  • Faming


Region II


  • Rice Cultivation
  • Coconut Plantations
  • Dairy Farming
  • Timber

Dairy and Poultry Farming

Region III

Essequibo Islands – West Demerara

  • Sugar Cane Cultivation
  • Coconut Plantations
  • Dairy and Poultry Farming
  • Farming

Agriculture and Farming

Region IV

Demerara – Mahaica

  • Administrative and Commercial Activities
  • Sugar Estates
  • Coconut Estates
  • Cash Crops
  • Fisheries

Business Administration, Computer Sciences, and Engineering

Region V

Mahaica – Berbice

  • Rice Cultivation
  • Sugar Cane Cultivation
  • Coconut Farming
  • Beef and Dairy Cattle Ranching

Rice Cultivation


Region VI

East Berbice - Correntyne

  • Sugar Cane
  • Rice
  • Vegetables
  • Fisheries


Region VII


  • Timber
  • Gold and Diamonds
  • Fisheries

Timber Industries

Sustainable Logging

Region VIII


  • Mining
  • Agriculture


Region IX

Upper Takutu – Essequibo

  • Cattle Ranching
  • Timber and Forestry Products
  • Mining of Semi-Precious Stones
  • Agriculture

Animal Husbandry

Region X

Upper Demerara – Upper Berbice

  • Bauxite Mining
  • Cattle Rearing
  • Forestry
  • Agriculture


Figure 1. Proposed matrix of Regional Opportunity Industrial Complexes, and the disciplines each will specialize in considering the strengths of each region.



The Initiation Clubs linked with the Industrial Complexes will bridge the divide between the city and the rural/interior regions and become catalysts and facilitators for the delivery of goods and services to rural communities. The Youth would be taught how to accept hard work and challenges as part of national development; how to overcome the problems in their lives having experienced certain robustness as they were taught to love their country. It will bring the youth of all ethnic groups together from all parts of Guyana and imbue within them a greater appreciation and love for each other having shared many common experiences whether happy or difficult. It will foster more receptivity and accommodation of each other rather than seek to obliterate the diversities.

Developmental Perspective as a Lead into Engagement

Stage of Development

A developmental perspective on youth is absolutely necessary as a frame of reference for any successful programme that engages them in the development of themselves and their nation.  This perspective delineates the psychological, physical, emotional and cognitive underpinnings of young people so that there is synergy between the engagement and the developmental propensities of the young people of the nation.

The central theme of development of youth is that of identity, coming to know who one is, what one believes in and values, what one wants to accomplish and get out of life. As an adolescent, the youth have to come to terms with a new kind of body, with new potentialities for feeling and acting, and to rearrange his or her self-image accordingly.


It is during this critical age (13-15 years) of identity that programmes, educational and extracurricular, focus on not only forming the youth’s personal identity but on understanding their importance in relation to a national identity- one in which they have knowledge of the nation’s history, its dreams, its values, its geography, its biodiversity and its heroes and heroines.  This is the period when one introduces activities aimed at fostering respect for local and national institutions, for the sanctity of life and public property, for getting along with others. This will be the focus of the Initiation Clubs program for 13-15 year old youth.

Stage of Development of Youth

In early adolescence stage, the youth seek independence in new areas like religious beliefs or dating, but very much in the same way as when they were younger, they want more privileges, more freedom from adult supervision and restraint so that they can follow the dictates of the gang/peeps, but with little sense of responsibility for the consequences of their own actions. The young adolescents, perhaps even more than during the middle years, (7-11years) are concerned about their status with their immediate peers.  They strive to be as much like the others as possible, perhaps because they feel so much out of step with them. For, almost against their own volition, they are becoming ever more of an individual, with ideas and values that may not match the essentially conservative code of the gang to which they belong, but their own only half-understood uniqueness is not completely welcome.


Creating youth groups, clubs/organizations are important at this stage where they will engage in philosophical discussions, explore their country and learn about the resources, dream about their future being linked to their country’s development, host discussions with or on heroes and heroines. At the same time these clubs must offer an athletic programme to develop their prowess and physique. The Initiation Clubs would serve this purpose of meeting these developmental needs.

Stage of Development of Older Youth

Corresponding to changes in the body, there emerges a whole new meaning of life. For many adolescents, the world becomes driven by sexual energy so that the most innocuous objects and events take on erotic implications. The older youth’s new and often confused self-awareness—manifested largely as self-consciousness—involves a new push for independence. They share the younger one’s concerns but are, in addition, confronted by the problem of where they stand with respect to the entire adult world of independence and responsibility, marriage, jobs, politics, parenthood—and must face the chilling prospect of being on their own, without the material support of their family or the moral support of the peer group. It is part of the social ethic that the person—specifically, but not exclusively so, women over 17 and men—who maintains dependent status after they reach adulthood have something wrong with them, and this is felt as acutely by the individual as by his family and neighbours.

Many of them on the threshold of maturity go through a ceremonial youth hood. The rituals by which adulthood is conferred are variously called initiation ceremonies. Some youth of various ages initiate themselves through some simple rites with nothing more than tattooing, a haircut or circumcision.

This period of development is also marked by the development of advanced reasoning skills, abstract thinking skills and the ability to think about thinking.  That means that the older youth has a logical thought process and is able to think about things hypothetically, is able to think about things that cannot be seen or heard, as well as measure how he is perceived by others and think about strategies for improving his learning ability.


Since the over 15 year old youth’s central problem is to define an identity independent of the authority and support of their parents, it follows that they have to break innumerable ties to their family based on authority, affection, responsibility, respect, intimacy, money and material goods, immaturity, possessiveness, and force of habit.

Moving into the Industrial Complexes allows the natural progress for the youth to quickly develop their individual identify and independence, build self-confidence and insight into a lifelong career and earn a living. The activities of the Industrial Complexes provide them with an orientation towards their role in nation building, equipping them with the appropriate skills, having them fired with the pioneering zeal and enthusiasm, building within them a collaborative spirit of mutual respect with persons of all ethnicities, religious and cultural affiliations, carving out viable settlements away from the city, developing the lines of communication and infrastructure to facilitate access, supporting their hinterland communities with basic services, and developing centres of enlightenment that would be catalysts for broad based national development.

In the words of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, West Africa, as she noted that youth empowerment and national development were inextricably linked:


"No nation can survive and no democracy can flourish and be sustained unless its youth are engaged in ways and processes that enhance their leadership capacity, teach them about citizenship, promote social cohesion, and reinforce those norms and ethos embedded in the democratic culture4".


End Notes

  1. Guyana Statistical Bureau, Population Projections: Guyana 2005-2025, High Variant Projections, Table 9, page 9.
  2. The current Government of Guyana has been in power since 1992.
  3. Francis Fukuyama (1996) Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity
  4. Lecture at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, February 20, 2010, Ghana News Agency.


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