Gov’t could allow importation of skilled labour for big projects


Labour shortages are a growing problem locally, with many businesses complaining about the challenge.

To remedy the issue, Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday said the government may allow foreign companies executing big infrastructure projects locally to import workers, though it is keen on ensuring Guyanese are employed first.

An example of this is the importation of labour to work on the construction of the new Demerara Harbour Crossing.

Chinese joint venture, China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, is executing the project and according to Jagdeo, officials from the company suggested the importation of skilled workers who were used to build the football stadium in Qatar for the recent football world cup.

“….We’ll probably allow that because if they don’t, they will take from the existing workers,” the Vice President told reporters at a party press conference on Thursday.

The importation of labour seems to be a solution for Guyana’s labour shortages and Jagdeo acknowledged that some private entities have already recruited foreign workers.

But the government is keen on moderating the importation of foreign labour.

“We have allowed and we are allowing some labour to come here but without opening a floodgate and the reason why we are doing this is because in some parts of the country, we still have pockets of unemployment,” he said.

Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo (Photo: News Room/ April 6, 2023)

With people still unemployed, despite the high demand for labour, Dr. Jagdeo said different solutions have to be rolled out to guarantee that all Guyanese can secure jobs.

For that reason, he said the government has been engaging firms to build accommodation in business centres so that persons in other regions can be brought and accommodated in the areas or regions where the labour is needed.

He also said the government and/or private entities could be providing daily transportation for workers living in areas where the demand for labour is lower so that they can work in the areas where the demand is high.

Training people in the technical areas where skills are required is also part of the government’s long term solution, the Vice President said too.


Even as these solutions are being deliberated upon, another consideration is being examined – the integration of more women into the workforce.

With the government’s part time jobs initiative across the country, he said more women have joined the formal workforce.

Now, Jagdeo thinks more women can be recruited to work outside of the home.

“We can easily bring in probably, mainly rural, hinterland (and) maybe from Region 10, maybe 100,000 women into the workforce,” he said.

Recently, President of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce Ryan Alexander told the News Room that private sector players believe more women should be recruited and employed as the country grapples with labour shortages.

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