If Guyana’s leaders are genuinely interested in ensuring a wide cross-section of its people are able to fully participate in the oil sector, then it must pursue a comprehensive skills-building strategy says Trinidad and Tobago’s former Energy Minister, Kevin Ramnarine.
The Business Lecturer made these and other remarks during a recent interview on Kaieteur Radio. The former Minister said there has always been a tendency for governments of oil producing nations to focus on the “glamorous side” of oil in gas. In this context, he said that there is usually an inclination to invest the money in building skills related to petroleum law, economics, engineering, geosciences etc. While that would be a plus for the country, he was keen to note that there will always be a need for hands-on skills such as those provided by technicians, electricians and those who work on the rig floor. “Those jobs pay well too, sometimes even way more than the office jobs,” the Trinidadian said.
The former Minister said that this one of the things his home country got right as it invested in technical schools such as the National Energy Skills Centre. Ramnarine said it is because of Trinidad’s investment in an array of skills that Point Lisas which is his country’s major industrial centre, is largely run by Trinidadians. Ramnarine noted that practically all of the Chief Executive Officers, Engineers and technical people working there are locals.
With the foregoing in mind, the Energy Advisor said that Guyana needs to balance its investments in developing the not so glamourous skills or else its nationals would not be able to participate fully in the sector.
“So I would recommend that Guyana build the capacity of the University of Guyana but at the same time, build specialist and technical schools,” Ramnarine concluded.