Guyana is short of about 100,000 or more persons in the skilled and semi-skilled workforce and as they seek to bridge the gap, the authorities are exploring how they can involve the global diaspora and tap into what is already available in the country.
But to do this, there is a need for a more efficient response from the global diaspora and possibly a review of the existing immigration policies, specifically as it relates to granting work permits.
This, along with the establishment of a National Labour Committee and incentivising of persons can help to address the major issue is which has impact on the pace and the quality of development of the country.
These were among the recommendations made at a follow-up multi-stakeholders meeting on Guyana’s Labour Needs which was hosted on Monday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s Diaspora Unit at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal.
The objective of the session is to facilitate the crafting of a national response to address the labour shortage in Guyana in the short, long and medium terms.
In his remarks, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud said the accelerated pace of the country and the current trajectory can be stymied with the lack of human resources.
“In every area, in every facet of the country’s operation, whether it’s in private or public sector, we know the issues of human resources has become a challenge,” Persaud said.
He added: “We have to be, in many regards, innovative…in terms of addressing human resources of our country and one of which is how it is we can tap our global diaspora.
“How much foreign input we want to have in our human resources bank and how much more do we do in terms of ensuring that Guyanese in the global diaspora – that they too are given the opportunity”.
Persaud also said another option which can be explored is the issue of migration.
“A lot of Guyanese who live in the border areas would have returned but they would have originally come out of those communities and that’s where they return so we have to also find a way which we can reach out to them and to get them too involved because some of the persons we are looking for may be in those communities as well,” he said.
Coming out of the discussion, Executive Chairman of ActionINVEST Caribbean Inc., Vishnu Doerga said survey has revealed that Guyanese do not want to return to the country for various reasons including security.
Additionally, to attract the labour needed to drive the economy forward, Doerga also suggested that there is a consideration of the immigration policy especially as it relates to work permits.
Instead of waiting for weeks for a work permit, he said a digital system be considered where this can be done within days or hours.
Another approach he said could be incentivizing employment.
“Guyana is now listed as a high income country…the cost of living keeps increasing. So if we can actually make it attractive for people to actually work and retain their employees…so locals and foreigners could get employed here in Guyana,” Doerga said.
With massive development ongoing across the country, the Government as well as the private, has been confronted with labour shortage.
And though it remains keen on ensuring Guyanese are first employed, the government has been allowing foreign companies executing big infrastructure projects here to import workers in a bid to remedy the issue.