Labour shortages a ‘national complaint’ but re-migrants, women part of solution – Pres. Ali


By Vishani Ragobeer

New projects are developing all across Guyana but the limited availability of human resources is a growing challenge that can stall works, President Dr. Irfaan Ali said on Friday.

The Guyanese Head of State, however, emphasised that the government is seeking to address this so that its development plans are not stalled.

“Labour shortage is a major issue that we are going to face.

“All the entities are complaining about the shortage of labour, it’s a national complaint,” President Ali said at a press conference held at State House in New Amsterdam, Region Six (East Berbice- Corentyne).

This comes as Guyana, over the past few years, has experienced substantial economic growth linked to an expanding oil and gas sector. The growth in that sector is contributing to the development of other productive sectors.

Moreover, both the government and the private sector have been investing in other sectors. There has been heavy investment in construction and infrastructural development.

In the housing and building sector in Region Six alone, some 600 skilled or semi-skilled workers are needed to construct a minimum of 1,200 houses this year. This, the President said, can be extrapolated to illustrate the demand for labour across the country.

Because skilled workers are in high demand but in limited supply, the President acknowledged that the human resources must be found. And he hopes to find skilled personnel in Guyana.

“What we are doing now is we are making our final effort combing across the country to see all those who are ready and available to work,” Dr. Ali said.

Additionally, he told reporters that re-migrants are aiding efforts. Already, Dr. Ali said many people are returning from Suriname, Barbados and other Caribbean countries.

Over the last few decades, reports show, skilled Guyanese left for those countries in search of job opportunities. The government, through diasporic engagements, has encouraged Guyanese with skills and capital to return home.

Outside of government, the local private sector is confronted by labour shortages too.

President of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce Ryan Alexander, who is also the Vice Chairman of Guyana’s Private Sector Commission (PSC), said labour shortages are seen all across all sectors.

But he believes that more focus should be placed on integrating more women into the workforce.

“We believe (there is a) huge percentage of women who are not in the workforce and they are highly skilled… if they are not skilled, they are quick learners,” Alexander said.

Further, Alexander believes that there is more scope for women to enter the tourism and hospitality sector- given the ongoing expansion of the sector.

And training women is viewed as a means of encouraging them to join the formal workforce, Alexander said.

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