After consultations, new unit formed to help resolve labour shortages


After weeks of targeted consultations among key stakeholders, a decision was made to establish a new unit tasked with getting more students trained in the technical areas where labour shortages exist.

The new Manpower Design and Strategy Unit falls under the purview of the Ministry of Labour and the Diaspora Unit of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Head of the Diaspora Unit, Rosalinda Rasul explained at a meeting on Friday that the unit will identify the areas with high demand and connect persons from training institutions with the opportunities available.

The unit will also provide statistics on the areas which need more human capacity.  Further, Rasul said the new unit will target school children and develop their skills set.

Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton and Head of the Diaspora Unit Rosalinda Rasul during the engagement (Photo: DPI/ September 1, 2023)

Based on a 2021 report from the International Office for Migration (IOM), Guyana needs at least 100,000 skilled personnel for its medium-term development. Cognisant of this need, coupled with shortages already experienced locally, the Diaspora Unit has combined its efforts with the Labour Ministry to conduct assessments of the different sectors in order to create remedial strategies to address the issue.

Various stakeholder meetings were held. And Rasul said the feedback was used to generate solutions.

“Based on our feedback from the private sector, they are going to need like 3,000 welders by December 2025 but how do we get students ready for this?

“Do we go right back into the schools helping students to get ideas about welding?” she quizzed.

So, she added, “They [the Unit] are the ones who will coordinate with the Universities, the tech schools and nations [and] go back to the classrooms.”

Some of the stakeholders who attended the second meeting to discuss Guyana’s labour shortage (Photo: DPI/ September 1, 2023)

Vishnu Doerga, the Executive Chairman of ActionINVEST Caribbean Inc. underscored the need for these actions on Friday, stating that the shortage could jeopardise the country’s development.

“I would rather our manufacturing sector gets stronger in the next three to five years when you have serious problems to deal with. With lower cost of power, we can produce almost anything, but if you don’t have the people and if the taxation doesn’t give them some sort of benefits and advantage to really re-invest, I think we are going to end up in bigger problems.

“Unless all of us go home now and start getting busy and solve this problem, 18 years from now will have to find more ways of adding a lot of talent to our labour pool,” Doerga said.

Meanwhile, the Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton said the ministry needs the support to find solutions for the country’s workforce woes. He explained that his ministry tried to conduct its own assessments but found that some companies do not cooperate.

He said of 68 companies the ministry reached out to in the construction sector, only 46 of them responded. In the oil and gas sector, 29 companies responded out of 61 companies that were engaged. He said this adds to the challenge when identifying areas that need support.

“The government’s attempt at fixing the matter is first knowing what we have. If you know all of us throw around numbers but they are not real numbers.

“I am telling you as the Minister of Labour there is nobody in this country who knows any of what we have and therefore we cannot know what we have to train and who we have to train,” he lamented.

Nevertheless, Hamilton said he is pleased with the formation of the new unit which will also work along with the ministry’s Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency to match job seekers with jobs.

The new unit will also engage the diaspora to find ways in which they can contribute to the country’s needs.

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