–Sharma Solomon says, calls on Lindeners to set sights on spin-off industries instead
WITH all the hype associated with the coming oil-and-gas industry, Lindeners are no doubt hopeful that this industry will change the economic landscape of the town for the better.
It’s a mindset that former Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon is hoping they would change, by looking beyond just positioning themselves to giving direct service to this very lucrative industry at the expense of the plethora of opportunities available in the spin-off industries.
He was at the time speaking on the Guyana Chronicle’s Vantage Point, and posited that Lindeners are blessed with a certain type of skill he deems fundamental to mining. “We are blessed with a certain type of skill, and I believe fundamental to that as we look towards first oil, and important to its development, is how do we start to train and educate our people,” he said, adding: “I think that it is fundamental to start to ensure Linden and Region Ten appreciate what first oil has to offer.”
Solomon said the reality is that not everyone will be able to work directly in the oil industry, and that oil and gas should not be the only focus of the youths in particular. He spoke of the equally lucrative opportunities that are available in such other sectors as agriculture, tourism and logging, saying that produce from these sectors can be processed to meet the demands of the oil-and-gas sector. “I believe that with the potential in other sectors that are there,” he said, “we don’t have to necessarily only focus on oil and gas being directly linked to our development; we can see other areas that we can span from oil and gas…”
But for Lindeners to profit from the spin-offs of which he speaks, Solomon says there needs to be human development and training needs to become available for youths. Maybe an arm of the University of Guyana focusing on oil and gas studies, or the availability of equal courses at tertiary institutions such as the Linden Technical Institute will be a big boost to human development, not only in Linden, but in Region Ten, since a dormitory to house students residing in far-flung areas is presently being constructed.
“It is not only how you position yourself, but how you see what you can take advantage of that is on the horizon,” Solomon reasoned, while remaining confident that Lindeners will be able to do so, as history has shown that residents had positioned themselves in the past for other forms of mining other than bauxite mining, and are now providing skill set to several expatriate mining companies in Guyana.
Over the last two years, scores of Linden youths have availed themselves for training in Information Communication Technology (ICT), agro-processing, and other hard and soft skills that were made available through entities such as the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) and the Ministry of Social Protection. Many of these youths would have started their own businesses, using those skills they acquired, or would have gained employment.
ExxonMobil would have also sponsored oil and gas-related training at the Linden Technical Institute from which many of the township’s youths would have benefited. The Christianburg Wismar Secondary School has also commenced a Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination Vocational programme, with the specific aim of positioning graduates for the oil and gas industry.