President Dr. Irfaan Ali said it is likely that there will be a sizable number of foreign workers here in response to growing demands for labour amid a shortage of supply.
The Guyanese Head of State said this on Monday night as he addressed the Private Sector Commission’s (PSC) annual dinner.
According to him, the government is developing an economy that will be well-equipped to provide services to about three million people who will be travelling into and out of the state.
However, the process of developing Guyana requires huge amounts of labour now. And it is no secret that Guyana needs thousands of workers.
A 2021 report from the International Office for Migration (IOM) stated that Guyana needs an additional 100,000 to 160,000 workers to support heightened economic activity in the medium term. The country’s Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud has referenced these figures during diasporic engagements.
Importing labour, at least in controlled amounts for now, has been floated as a possible short-term solution.
And on Monday night, President Ali said, “From what I am seeing, we will have maybe a very large, very significant size of our workforce, especially our labour and semi-skilled type of workforce, coming from outside of Guyana.”
He added, “The applications are already there. Every single major builder, contractor or private sector person has an application to bring in 30 to 40 workers right now.”
There are some considerations, however.
For one, President Ali said the government is trying to manage its registration and citizenship systems carefully.
That is why, he explained, the government is implementing a three-fold digital identification card system in Guyana. Those ID cards will be for citizenship, residency and work permit purposes.
Dr. Ali also said local participation in every project remains a priority.
Previously, he stated that the government wants to ensure that all Guyanese of working age and ability are gainfully employed. And one solution to help address labour shortages in some regions would be to get underemployed persons in other regions to work where the demand exists.