Making work safer in Guyana
Cuso International doesn’t recruit many people with Marshall Denhoff’s skillset. During his year-long placement in Linden, Guyana, Marshall will be working as an Occupational Safety & Health(OSH) Curriculum Program Advisor and Trainer at Linden Technical Institute (LTI). His position is central to a partnership with Cuso International, Guyana Goldfields, LTI and Guyana’s Ministry of Education.
The challenge Marshall is looking to tackle is making sure graduates from vocational schools like LTI are properly trained in occupational safety and health before entering the workforce. Guyana Goldfield recognizes the importance of properly trained employees at their operations. They are leading this partnership to ensure their employees get the training they need before they even start. This is where Marshall comes in.
“My project is two-fold—first to support Vocational Training Institutes in establishing a certified OSH training program to turn out graduates who can fill the demand for safety specialists in Guyana”, says Marshall. “The second part is to instill a safety culture that students will bring with them once they graduate and find work at companies like Guyana Goldfields.”
The traditional focus of post-secondary schooling in Guyana has been on universities, but with a nearly 40% youth unemployment rate, the government is starting to shift its focus to career paths which can get people working. “In Canada, trades such as electrician, aircraft mechanic, welder etc. are desirable career paths to good paying jobs. In Guyana, much of the focus has been on universities, and trades schools have struggled for funding for even basic training equipment,” says Marshall. “The government is starting to see the value in providing more resources for vocational training.”
This shift means that people with Marshall’s background are in high demand in Guyana right now. Cuso International’s volunteer model where skills and experience are shared is an opportunity to make sure that Guyanese are being set up with the skills they need to make sure the future of the country’s workforce is well-trained and well-employed. “With the expansion of industries such as mining, oil and gas and manufacturing in Guyana, there are opportunities for Guyanese to fill safety positions that traditionally may have gone to ex-pats,” Marshall notes.
Guyana is looking for ways to spark its economy and get youth working. With its focus on trades, entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises it looks to be on the right track. Cuso International volunteers like Marshall are proud to be among those lending their skills and knowledge so that Guyana can take advantage of opportunities that are coming its way…safely.
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