The Government of Guyana recognizes and values the talent of all citizens and will make every effort to ensure that they are absorbed into the country’s workforce. This year, 2020 is the beginning of the ‘Decade of Development’, during which President David Granger has promised significant reduction in unemployment rates, and significance increase in employment opportunities.
However, long before the ‘Decade of Development’, the then Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, now Ministry of Social Protection, has been matching potential employees with employers through the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency (CRMA), formerly known as the Employment Exchange. In fact, just last year, the CRMA helped 500 persons find employment. This edition of Government in Action explores the CRMA’s efforts to advance employment in Guyana.
The Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency
Chief Recruitment and Manpower Officer, Ms. Valerie Moore provided a brief overview of the agency.
“[The CRMA was] established [under] the Employment Exchange Act in 1944… for the purpose of collecting and keeping records of people who were seeking employment and records of those who were desirous of people working for them. That [was] the main focus in that time, but we have gone a little further… Apart from registration and placing… we visit employers who would like to have [persons] to employ,” Ms. Moore said.
The CRMA offers an extensive recruitment and job-placement process. Job seekers are registered with the CRMA who certify the authenticity of their qualifications and resume. Qualified job seekers are then recommended for referral and submitted to various employers for interviews. The employer sends feedback for every successful and unsuccessful interview, which the CRMA discuses with the applicant and the process is repeated until the job-seeker is employed.
“We try as we go along to help people… Those who come and are also desirous of learning a skill and [those who have] left school early, no secondary education, we partner with other agencies… Our main partner is the Board of Industrial Training. They do skills training for out-of-school youth [ages] 15-35… What we try to do [is more than to] register and [to] place. Once we discover that you have potential, [through] occupational counselling, and we know what [skills are] required for [the different opportunities]. Some people will come and show the interest in doing [occupations] other than labour, [or] other jobs that require little qualification. So, we will channel them in those directions,” she said.
Ms. Moore said that while she feels pride in seeing job-seekers receive employment opportunities, the real victory is won when persons stick to their job search instead of giving up.
“I feel good and I feel proud that [they are employed] but I’ve experienced that a lot because I’ve been at the Department a number of years… We always encourage them to keep doing the right thing. Go to work early… People tend to, when they get their work, become complacent… When they come and they tell us, we’re happy for them, but we encourage them to do the right thing so that they could keep their jobs… If we send someone for referral at a work place and they don’t get through, it does not end there. They can come and come and come until they’ve been placed,” she said.
Ms. Moore advised other businesses seeking employees to partner with the CRMA to help erase unemployment in Guyana.
“We have our clients, people who have been with us over the years… I would like to thank them for using us. Those who have not come on board with us, I’d like them to partner with us so that we can be able to help those persons who are seeking employment to lead a productive life and that, I’m certain… will help with the unemployment issue in this country,” she said.
Job search tips
For the job seekers who need a boost in how to conduct themselves during an interview and other soft job skills, the CRMA offers the Job Readiness workshop. The implementation of this workshop saw an increase in interviews that resulted in job placement. So far, the workshop has been expanded to Pomeroon-Supenaam (Region Two), Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region Three), East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six), and Upper Demerara-Berbice (Region Ten).
According to Assistant Chief Recruitment and Manpower Officer, Ms. Yolanda Grant, who also facilitates the workshop, the CRMA aims to empower young people through guided facilitation.
“We try our best to match persons with jobs that best fits their capabilities because… we want them to be comfortable in their capacity of work. That said, one of the challenges faced by both employers and the job seekers is that the job seekers fail at the starting point. That is the interview process… Persons would produce a good resume, but when it comes to selling themselves, they’re unable to do so. So, we initiated the Job Readiness Workshop, which started in March of 2017,” Ms. Grant said.
The Job Readiness Workshop also teaches work place ethics through role play. This, Ms. Grant says, helps the job-seekers understand the importance of good interview and work place habits from the perspective of the employer. The CRMA also collaborates with other Ministries and Agencies, like the Night School, offered by the Department of Youth within the Department of Social Cohesion to help boost applicant qualifications. Ms. Grant offered few interview tips for job-seekers.
“When the [job seekers] come for the workshop, they’re a little tense, but as you go through the training with them, they become relaxed and open. They would ask you questions and… when you pose the interview questions to them and explain to them how they should answer the questions, many times they would be like, ‘Oh, wow, I never knew that!’ One of the first questions an interviewer would ask [is to] tell [them] about yourself. Persons [may] answer, ‘Oh I’m Yolanda Grant; I have two kids.’ No. The employer is not concerned about that… The best way to answer that question is [with the skills] you have to give. ‘I’m self-motivated. I’m resourceful. I’m a good leader, a team leader’. It describes you, but also it’s relating to the job,” she said.
Ms. Grant also advises that job seekers, both men and women, conduct interviews in modest, professional business attire as provocative attire can be distracting. She also encouraged them to truthfully highlight their strengths and weaknesses, pairing the weaknesses with growth opportunities. Ms. Grant also recommends that job seekers limit inappropriate content on their social media profiles as employers often use social media to find out more about prospective employees. Always give a range, she says, when asked for salary figure and always remember that job-hunting is a competition.
“I just want to encourage youth to be more flexible and take up opportunities in other trainings that they would not have chosen and to take full advantage of the programmes offered by the Government through a number of agencies so that they can become employable. Also, as the country prepares to embark on oil production, Guyanese youth must be equipped to take advantage of every opportunity available to them. I want to encourage persons seeking employment, and employers seeking suitable employees, to utilise the services provided by the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency and also take note that our service that we provide is free of cost,” she said.
Last September, Ms. Shenel Benn was offered a position at the Ministry of Social Protection after going through the recruitment process at the CRMA. Ms. Benn shared with us details about her job-search experience and life in the world of work.
“You know, job-seeking can be a bit tedious when you’re looking to find the correct field to work in, that ties [into] what you would’ve studied, your qualifications and so forth. So, having heard of the CRMA and approaching them, it was a very smooth and helpful process. The staff there is very helpful in locating and finding you a job that suits your qualifications. The staff, they were very helpful [and] courteous. They were down to earth. So, in terms of any queries or questions and concerns about how you seek employment, your mode of dress, the way you should speak, they were very knowledgeable and they ensured that they imparted their knowledge to you,” Ms. Benn said.
Her employment, Ms. Benn explained, helped develop her interpersonal skills.
“Having been employed, it really boosts your confidence level and the [nature] of the job, Prevention and Education Officer, I would have to interact on a daily basis with persons from the public in educating them on trafficking in persons. So, with that constant communication you become a bit bolder,” she said.
Ms. Benn encourages job-seekers to take full advantage of the service offered by the CRMA.
“For current job seekers and anyone who is of the persuasion that it’s very difficult to find a job out there, I would definitely encourage them to check the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency. The staff is very much helpful and they will ensure that you’re placed at the place that will be suitable for your qualifications. And persons who are now embarking on the journey of work, I would just encourage them to be punctual, to be very confident, but to be very humble for the opportunity, and to take full [advantage] of all the opportunities that they are given. Put your best foot forward in any task that [you’re] assigned,” she said.
Ms. Benn’s story is just one of 500 of those who found employment through the CRMA in 2019. The Government of Guyana believes that all Guyanese who are willing to work should have access to job opportunities. The Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency will continue working hard to ensure that Guyanese are given the opportunity to work, improve their quality of life, and contribute to Guyana’s economy.