By Sueann Wickham 

Guyana, for many years, has been facing a significant crisis—brain drain. This phenomenon refers to the emigration of highly skilled and educated individuals from one country to another, often due to better opportunities and higher pay. In Guyana’s case, this has led to a shortage of skilled professionals in key sectors such as healthcare, education, and technology. This shortage has also resulted in a decline in the quality of services offered and a lack of innovation.

The effects of brain drain on Guyana are far-reaching and significant, impacting the country’s economy, society, and future development. The loss of highly skilled professionals means that the country is losing out on potential revenue from their contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It also means that the country is spending more money on training new professionals to fill the gaps left by emigrants.

According to a 2021 report by the World Bank, Guyana’s brain drain was a result of the lack of opportunities and low pay for skilled professionals. The report was keen to note that the country needs to address these issues to retain skilled professionals and prevent brain drain.

It was also reported that at one period, at least 80 percent of persons with tertiary education left for better-paying jobs.

Nevertheless, the impact of brain drain on Guyana’s society is also noteworthy. The emigration of skilled professionals often means that families are separated, leading to a breakdown in social structures and support networks. Furthermore, the loss of professionals in key sectors such as healthcare means that the population’s well being is at risk.

The government of Guyana has recognized the severity of this issue and has taken steps to address it. In 2019, the government launched the ‘Green State Development Strategy’ to create a green economy that would provide more opportunities for skilled professionals. The government has also increased funding for education and training programs to help develop the skills of local professionals.

In addition to the government’s efforts, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are also working to address the issue of brain drain in Guyana. One such organization is the Guyana Foundation, which aims to improve healthcare, education, and social services in the country. The foundation’s programs focus on providing education and training to local professionals to help them develop the skills they need to build successful careers in Guyana.

As we have discussed, brain drain is a significant issue for Guyana, and it requires immediate attention from the government and other stakeholders. In addition to the measures that have been taken so far, several other strategies could be implemented to address this problem.

One possible solution could be to create more opportunities for skilled professionals within the country. This could involve creating new industries or expanding existing ones that require highly skilled workers. For example, the government could invest in renewable energy projects, which would create jobs for scientists, engineers, and other professionals. Alternatively, the government could expand the tourism industry, which would require workers in the hospitality, transportation, and entertainment sectors.

Another strategy could be to improve the working conditions and salaries of skilled professionals in key sectors such as healthcare and education. This would make it more attractive for professionals to stay in Guyana rather than emigrate to other countries. The government could also provide incentives for skilled professionals to return to Guyana after working abroad. For example, it could offer tax breaks or loan forgiveness programes to professionals who return to work in the country.

Furthermore, the government could invest in education and training programs to develop the skills of local professionals. This would not only help to retain skilled professionals in the country but also create a pipeline of new professionals who can fill the gaps left by emigrants.

The government could partner with universities and vocational schools to provide scholarships, internships, and apprenticeships to students who are interested in working in key sectors such as healthcare, education, and technology.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also have a crucial role to play in addressing the issue of brain drain in Guyana. In addition to providing education and training programs to local professionals, as the Guyana Foundation does, NGOs could also provide support services to families who have been separated due to emigration. For example, they could offer counselling services, financial assistance, or social events that bring families together.

Finally, it is essential to recognize that brain drain is not a problem that can be solved overnight. It is a complex issue that requires a long-term approach and sustained effort from all stakeholders. The government, NGOs, and other organizations must work together to address the root causes of the brain drain in Guyana and create a more sustainable future for the country.

Currently, the country has a 3.4 out of 10 score on the [Global Economy Index]( “‌”). The human flight and brain drain index is ranked from 0 (low) to 10 (high).

So, while the government and NGOs have taken steps to address the issue, more needs to be done to create better opportunities and working conditions for skilled professionals in the country. By investing in education and training programs, creating new industries, and providing support services to families, these measures can help retain skilled professionals in Guyana and prevent brain drain in the long run.


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