Latest statistics have revealed that Guyana has one of the world’s highest rates of migration of skilled workers. This is according to the Chief Statistician and Census Officer, Lennox Benjamin.
During an exclusive interview with the Guyana Standard, Benjamin said that this trend is affecting the nation’s ability to perform as well as its competitiveness on the world market.
Benjamin said that since the country’s independence in 1966, a high share of the population has been emigrating, led by the most educated. He said that currently, around 55% of Guyanese citizens live abroad, and more than 80% of university-educated nationals have emigrated.
The Census Officer related that although the country benefits from remittances, migration constitutes a significant challenge for human capital and socioeconomic development. He said that the share of firms identifying an inadequately educated workforce as a major constraint to their businesses is higher in Guyana (50.5%) than the averages in Latin American and Caribbean countries (32%) and the world (22.2%).
Benjamin said, “Not only have the high migration rates of skilled workers affected our competitiveness but also, the overall performance of our various sectors, like health and education… Keeping skilled health professionals in the country is still an important challenge for this government.”
The Census Officer added, “But that is not to say that we have not seen some improvements in those areas too, for example, the statistics that we compiled also show that Guyana has reduced the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds and the prevalence of undernourishment and malnutrition among children under five years by over one-half since 1990.”
In conclusion, the Chief Statistician commented that the high emigration rate can be linked to the fact that Guyana still struggles to offer “salaries that are attractive and commensurate with one’s qualifications and health care services and benefits that are on par with international standards.”