Ministry of Social Protection hosts School to Work Transition seminar

If you have ever applied for a job after high school or after the completion of your tertiary education, you would most commonly, if not frequently, be asked the question, “So what is your job experience?” This question always finds its way into a job interview even if you are presenting your certificates as the best graduating student in the specific area that is required.

Presenter Tais Lisboa, Labour Inspector from the Ministry of Labour Employment in Brazil.

Some youths, realizing this, give up on their hope of attaining their desired job, some become underemployed and work their way up, and others enter into the informal economy of work while most migrate. All of which can contribute negatively to a nation’s development.

The Government of Guyana is however, trying to derive solutions on how to tackle child labour and youth employment through successful Apprenticeship Programs that are functioning successfully in other regions, such as Brazil and other developing Countries.

On 11th May 2017, the Ministry of Social Protection’s Labour sector; in collaboration with the International Labour Organization and Brazilian Apprenticeship System; hosted a seminar under the theme – “School to Work Transition for the Prevention of Child Labour: A review of experiences and good practices in the Brazilian Apprenticeship System.”

The seminar was presented from the stand point of the Brazilian contextual experience with Apprenticeship programs with the aim of extracting what can be adapted, formulated and implemented to suit the Guyana context.

Specifically assigned to this role was Port of Spain based, Employment and Labour Market Specialist from the ILO Decent Work team and Office for the Caribbean, Diego Rei.

Rei mentioned that apprenticeships can be an important and effective tool for the elimination of Child Labour and that he hopes there can be development through the mobilization of  a full fledge effective concrete apprenticeship program for Guyana. He further stated “The Brazilian model for apprenticeship is based on a number of specific features which are Legal Setting, Definition of Curricula, Involvement of employing organizations and designation of labour inspectors to carry out specific tasks related to the apprenticeship.”

Meanwhile, Presenter Tais Lisboa, Labour Inspector from the Ministry of Labour Employment in Brazil, stressed the importance of the Apprenticeship system as a separate entity within organizations. She mentioned that it is a separate matter that had to be treated differently which means that an apprentice could not be dealt with in the same manner as an employee. She shared a working model of the triangular relationship of the organizations who employ apprentices and the role of the labour inspector as a mediator/bridge between the two.

While Guyana has a form of apprenticeship program, it is limited, ephemeral and focuses more on when children are about exit school. The presentation of the Brazilian apprenticeship system offers a more extensive and integrative approach of youths into the society of work. The Brazilian apprenticeship will occur when the child is still in school in preparation for the world of work and targets age groups 14 to 18 years of age.

Some of the other key personnel represented were Miriam de Castro Rodrigues Leitão, First Secretary of the Brazilian Embassy to Guyana, Assistant Chief Labour Occupational Health and Safety Officer, Karen Vansluytman-Corbin, National Project Coordinator (Child Labour) ILO, Resel Melville and Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection with responsibility of Labour, Hon. Keith Scott.

In his address, Minister Scott mentioned that the ILO has been instrumental in promoting the decent work agenda in Guyana through technical guidance and financial support.

Some of the business and organizational entities in attendance were KG Employer Organization, Carnegie School of Home Economics, GUYSUCO, Technical Vocational and Educational Training Institute (TVET), Guyana Power and Light Corporation (GPL), Barama Company, Guyana Teacher Union (GTU), Volunteer Youth Corp, Guyana School of Agriculture, Guyana National Industrial Corporation, Guyana Technical Institute (GTI) and Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL).

The aim of the programme is to eradicate child labour whilst dealing with the issue of school drop outs under the apprenticeship system. It is the hope of the Ministry that this program will help to discourage school drop outs and encourage good work ethics and experiences while fostering youth employment.

The apprenticeship program is a South-South Technical Corporation Project hosted by the Brazilian Government and implemented by the International Labour Organization. The seminar continues today with key labour unions and entities of labour in Guyana.