Labour ministry supports National Labour Committee

The establishment of a National Labour Committee to address the labour shortage in Guyana is closer to realisation, as the Ministry of Labour has signalled a commitment to working with the relevant stakeholders to implement this action plan.

At the second follow-up stakeholders meeting on Guyana’s Labour needs, Lanour Minister, Joseph Hamilton highlighted the importance of a collaborative effort to develop short, medium and long-term solutions.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton

The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation’s Diaspora Unit. It brought together key stakeholders from both government and private sector entities to address challenges faced by the labour market, and to craft a national response to address the labour shortage in the country.

Minister Hamilton said a comprehensive strategy to balance the delivery of education to include both theoretical and practical skills training is necessary while implementing a long-term solution.

The labour minister lamented that, regionally, there appears to be an undiversified workforce, as the education system is heavily reliant on soft skills training.

The second follow-up stakeholders meeting on Guyana’s labour needs

According to him, prioritisation of technical and vocational training, as well as placing greater emphasis on internship and apprenticeship opportunities will better prepare persons for the world of work, while also increasing employability.

“As a nation, we have to make technical, and vocational training as prominent as academic education. The system is not geared for that. My assessment is that, in every class of 35, there are at least five children who do not want to be in that class. They want to be in a class doing more practical things,” he pointed out.  

Public-private partnerships are also key in expanding the range and accessibility of apprenticeship opportunities.

Additionally, Minister Hamilton identified retirees as an untapped reservoir of potential, as many of these persons have the expertise to satisfy the requirements of technical and vocational sectors.

“We have to put systems in place to rescale retired persons. Many of these are strong, healthy people who have the experience, and the intellect,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, at previous meetings, many persons highlighted the value of adjusting labour migration laws to allow migrants to fill gaps in Guyana’s labour force.

The minister said while this may serve effectively, before determining the type of labour migration policy Guyana needs, it is necessary to evaluate what labour the country already has.

The consensus at the previous follow-up meeting was that the establishment of a National Labour Committee would be an effective measure to bridge the labour gap.

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

The unit would deploy scouts to go into 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.

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.

A multifaceted approach makeup of this committee is necessary to prevent duplication and ensure effectiveness.