For every country, there are specific impediments to growth. In the case of Guyana, poor infrastructure along with the generation of electricity has always been high on the list of barriers to development. As Guyana inches closer to becoming a full-fledged petrostate, there is another factor that will raise its ugly head—the shortage of skilled labour.
This particular issue and the impact it would have on Guyana as it moves towards the development of effective systems for the oil sector was recently discussed between Caribbean Economist and Advisor, Marla Dukharan and IMF Mission Chief to Guyana, Andrew McIntyre.
The official said, “(A key issue for Guyana will be) the supply of skilled labour. In the western hemisphere, Guyana is the sixth or seventh country with the highest immigration rates over the last 20 years and a lot of that has been for skilled persons…”
On this note, Dukharan asked McIntyre if he lent any consideration to the impact of “brain gain” for Guyana since there are a number of Guyanese who are returning from the Diaspora, and in some cases, even non-nationals have been heading Guyana’s way to provide support in various areas.
In this regard, McIntyre said that when the IMF held discussions with the private sector a few months ago, it was noted that Guyana has a fairly open market policy, in that; there are no restrictions or rigidity for the hiring of labour. Therefore, the “brain gain” in that aspect is going to take place McIntyre stated. He noted however that there is still a huge gap to fill.
In fact, the official disclosed that the government, he suspects, is contemplating having an open migration policy to address this. The official said, too, that during discussions with the Guyanese authorities on this matter, the importance of CARICOM which allows for the free movement of skills was underscored.
Whether the gap can be met entirely from CARICOM is one has to wait and see, the IMF Mission Chief concluded.