Gov’t can increase domestic labour force with workers from hinterland & other areas – VP Jagdeo

100,000 labour shortage figure quoted from IOM report

With the large-scale transformation unfolding in Guyana, and the increased demand for skilled labour, Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, has reasoned that government can increase the supply of domestic labour to meet these demands.

The Vice President was speaking at a press conference on Thursday afternoon, held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

He was addressing the claim by Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, that Guyana’s need for 100,000 more workers speaks to the ‘incompetence’ of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic government, as this evidently means that government would have to import labour to fill the gap.

VP Jagdeo clarified that the figure is according to a report published by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and is not representative of the government’s plans for increasing the labour force.

The report states, ‘If Guyana were to harness all of its unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged workers, the potential supply of labour would only be some 63,500.’

In the medium term, it is estimated that Guyana will need approximately 160,000 workers, or a minimum of 100,000 workers to realise its full potential.

While he commended the work of the IOM on its manpower surveys, the VP noted that government is not in agreement with all of its conclusions.  

In addressing this labour resource challenge, Vice President Jagdeo highlighted that the government is actively exploring ways to transport workers from far-flung areas to meet the growing demand in the city.

“We believe that we can increase the supply of domestic labour by more than 63, 500, by bringing in more people. That is why we are working on special projects to get more women involved. We think that if we can get more women-hinterland women and some urban women-by providing daycare for their children, then we can add, just in female labour participation, maybe 100,000 of our people to the labour force,” he explained.

He added that training forms a large part of this agenda.

We have an aggressive training programme through the Ministry of Labour, we have about 17,000 persons on scholarship now through the GOAL programme, and there are lots of these activities going on to bring our own people into the labour force,” VP Jagdeo posited.

The vice President said that the government is also exploring the importation of skilled labour, but in measured degrees, saying, “If we were to take this report, we would be allowing 100,000 people to come here. But we are not doing that. We are very judicious, because, first of all, our people must be employed.”

Recently, a follow-up multi-stakeholder meeting on Guyana’s Labour Needs was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s Diaspora Unit to discuss ways of bridging the labour gap. This discussion was focused on involving the global diaspora and tapping into the country’s existing labour force. 

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