Gov’t mulls establishment of National Labour Committee to address shortage of skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled labour

The government is mulling the establishment of a National Labour Committee to address the shortage of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour in Guyana, as the country develops rapidly.

Although at the proposal stage, the establishment of a central committee, under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour, has been identified as a viable solution to addressing the shortage which has caused concern, especially in Guyana’s oil and gas sector.

Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud

This was the consensus at the follow-up Multi-Stakeholders Meeting on Guyana’s Labour Needs, held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Monday.

The forum, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s Diaspora Unit, brought together key stakeholders from government and private sector agencies to address challenges faced by the labour market and to craft a national response to address the labour shortage in the country in the short, long and medium terms.

Foreign Secretary at the ministry, Robert Persaud said the country’s accelerated approach to development can be stymied by a lack of adequate labour.

He outlined that a proactive approach is necessary, in addition, to tapping into the diaspora.

The follow-up Multi-Stakeholders Meeting on Guyana’s Labour Needs was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Monday

“There is so much that we can do in encouraging, networking and reaching out to the global diaspora, but we cannot wait forever for them to be responsive, because these projects cannot sit and wait for us to find these Guyanese. So, we have to be creative and innovative,” he said.

The previous meeting identified several key factors that contribute to the labour shortage, such as skills mismatched in the labour market, and cultural rigidity.

While the government continues to invest heavily in training to equip the local workforce with the necessary skills to meet industry demands, partnership with the private sector to develop a more comprehensive approach to bridging the gap was seen as necessary.

So, the National Labour Committee was identified as a deliberate and holistic solution, since this unit would be tasked to receive information on the demand and supply of labour in all sectors.

Head of the Diaspora Unit, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Rosalinda Rasul

Meanwhile, Head of the Diaspora Unit, Rosalinda Rasul, who facilitated the discussion, said the discord in relation to training with little insight into the needs and plans of companies and sectors has been taken into consideration.

Given that both the private and public sectors make up the demand for labour, their labour needs would be shared with the unit. Based on this information, the unit will assist the companies, ministries or contractors in sourcing the required labour.

The proposed model for this committee features five components, namely, scouting, matching, foreign workers, communication, and manpower surveys.

The unit would deploy scouts to every community to ascertain how many persons are looking for jobs, as well as their requisite skill sets, and compile this data. Based on that database, the matching process would see the connection of persons with the relevant skill set with the entity, contractor, or ministry that requires it.

To address any gaps, foreign workers would be engaged, as the unit would be tapping into other countries through diplomatic missions or otherwise to see where labour can be sourced.

“Communication is also important because a lot of the gaps are created because of a lack of information floating around, so we would have a subsection that is strictly responsible for creating content,” she said.

Manpower surveys and studies are the final component, and this should be conducted frequently, given the changing dynamics in each sector.

Meanwhile, the information garnered by the committee would be filtered to the various academic institutions, so that the training correlates with the labour demand.

“If, for example, we know that within the next five to ten years, we need to get 3,000 engineers or 500 doctors, then, once that information hits these training institutions, they know exactly what they have to do,” Rasul explained.

A number of stakeholders expressed intentions to contribute to facilitating the implementation of this model, including the Ministry of Education and the Public Sector Commission.