Labour shortages: Gov’t could import workers through ‘country to country’ arrangements

migrant labour policy to help the country cope with labour shortages and bilateral arrangements are being worked out for the supply of workers, Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton said recently.

Hamilton said companies can seek work permits from the Ministry of Home Affairs so they can import workers needed to help advance their projects. And this has already begun.

But he explained that the government is pursuing a refined migrant labour policy that balances the need for workers and the focus on upskilling and employing as many Guyanese as possible.

That policy would possibly include provisions for country to country arrangements.

“What we’re discussing is going beyond that where perhaps, you have bilateral arrangements, country to country arrangements, country and some company arrangements.

“We have to refine it,” Hamilton said during a recent panel discussion.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton

He added that the government has to figure what countries might be engaged for this initiative.

“The other important issue is we have to work out is where the people will come from. Are you bringing them from India or Africa? Are you bringing them from Spanish-speaking countries? That’s another dynamic we have to grapple with,” Hamilton said.

But before any decisions are made, Hamilton said the policy will be out for public consultations.

Guyana’s labour shortage is a well-ventilated issue, with the government organising several consultations before.

A recent Labour Assessment Survey details how 53, 000 workers (skilled and unskilled) will be needed over the next five years to service the agriculture, construction, health, transportation/logistics and oil and gas sectors.

That number is steadily rising and now is estimated at 60, 000. These are just five of about 20 sectors currently employing and in growing numbers, about 40 per cent of the current workforce.

The survey was conducted by the Centre for Local Business Development with support from the University of Guyana and funded by the Greater Guyana Initiative – a partnership with the Stabroek Block co-venturers ExxonMobil Guyana, Hess and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana.