Ambassador Lynch with facilitators and graduates of the USAID BLES programme in CorrivertonUS AmbassadorSarah-Ann LynchNewly appointed United States (US) Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, is urging Guyana to invest in keeping its youth here, especially with the impending oil and gas industry expected to create tremendous opportunities here.During a recent interview with a group of local journalists, Ambassador Lynch pointed out that Guyana will be earning billions of dollars in revenues when US-based ExxonMobil commences oil production early next year and as such, advised that the necessary steps be taken to ensure that the country and its people benefit optimally from the new found wealth.The three areas she suggested that Guyana should invest in are: diversifying the economy, bio-diversity and its people.“It’s going to be tough managing expectations because as citizens hear this, and we are all human, and the thought is ‘Wow, this is going to change my life tomorrow’. That may not be true. It may be true, but it may not be (tomorrow). So I would encourage the Guyanese Government and people to look at short-term gains but really take the long view in working with these resources (to)… investing in its people and infrastructure – and by that, I mean more than roads and electrical grid but the education system, the health system etc…,” she asserted.To this end, the US Ambassador underscored the importance of focusing on the country’s youths, especially with the abundance of opportunities that will emerge over the coming years.“I think you want to keep your youths here to exploit those opportunities. My understanding is that a great number of young people when they get their degrees, they look for opportunities elsewhere. Well now Guyana is going to be the place to be so I think that would be interesting to look at this group; make sure they have the skills, the interest and the desire to reinvest in their country and stay here to see (and be party of) the tremendous growth and development,” Ambassador Lynch contended.Currently, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has extensive programmes here that focus mainly on health, environment, citizen security and largely on youths, particularly at risk youths.According to Ambassador Lynch, over the years these programmes have been placing emphasis on young people who are at risk of, or have already turned to, a life of crime and violence. These programmes, she added, not only benefit youths but their families and communities by extension.In fact, she noted that only recently, she attended two events – in Georgetown and Corriverton, Berbice – where approximately 85 youths graduated with certificates in various vocational areas and life skills set they received via participation in the Basic Life and Employability Skills (BLES) programme under USAID’s Community, Family and Youth Resilience (CFYR) Project.With the aim of strengthening opportunities for at-risk youth to enter the work force and succeed at their jobs, the CFYR Project targets young women and men who reside in the communities of East La Penitence, East Ruimveldt, Lodge and Sophia.These young people recently completed BLES training programme, a five-week peer-to-peer workforce development programme. The graduates will continue to work with life coaches who will support them in job placement and ongoing workplace and life coaching for up to 12 months post-graduation.According to the US diplomat, this is something she would like to see be built upon and carried out throughout Guyana in order to produce more responsible and success-driven youths in the country. To this end, she noted that her Government’s support to Guyana is part of a continuum process on a “journey to self-reliance”, whereby it is preparing the country to look within its borders for ways to continue human development.“Guyana as well is along that continuum of self-reliance. So there maybe opportunities to work in other areas and to provide other assistance if requested… But what we’ve seen in Guyana is a tremendous opportunity to connect with the Private Sector.We can help leverage those connections and catalyse new public private partnerships so that the Private Sector can really take off because that is really the engine of change if you will and the progress for any country,” Ambassador Lynch stated.