By Kiana Wilburg

Within a few days, the Government of Guyana will open the first phase of the US$100M Port Mourant Technical Training College in Berbice. It is set to provide a state-of-the-art simulation facility to accelerate the learning curve for oil and gas technicians free of cost. Spanning 18.4 acres, the facility will soon progress to the construction of a hospitality and tourism institute to complement the oil and gas training college.

Notably, the facility is intended to prepare personnel for industry-level training that is equivalent to the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) Caribbean Vocal Qualification (CVQ).

Head of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge recently noted that he is proud of this landmark achievement for the country as it forms part of the solution to filling the human resource gap needed in the oil sector.

During a press engagement on Tuesday, Routledge recalled visiting the facility in December 2023, adding that works were progressing well. “So it is a facility simulator; it simulates being on a live plant, whether on or offshore, and enables training technicians to practice what they learnt in the classroom or laboratory in an almost real life setting…So that is the value of that particular facility,” the Exxon official explained.

He said the first batch of trainees for the oil and gas component will see 25 students who have been through all the basic training and will commence activities at the simulator this month before going offshore.

Routledge said the facility is indeed critical to Guyana’s development as it will churn out dual purpose trainees. “So this facility will be open for trainees, whether they live in Region One or Nine or anywhere in the country…

“They can decide after if they want to work in the oil and gas industry or another industry because those skills will be very transferrable to a number of the other industries the country is building,” said Routledge.


Earlier this month, Senior Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh shared with Guyana Standard in an exclusive interview that the government is acutely aware of the human resource gap it faces as it advances a trillion dollar agenda for 2024.

“The reality is that we are working with a very finite population… Availability of adequate levels of labour with the right skills is a serious public policy issue, and I can tell you it is an issue we have given very dedicated attention to,” said the minister.

Expounding further, Minister Singh said government’s solution to the challenge is a multipronged one. He categorically stated that efforts must first start at home. In this regard, the minister said the government is hunting those individuals who are unemployed, in need of training, can be deployed to meet the demand for labour across various sectors.

Minister Singh noted, for example, that the country is in need of heavy-duty operators. In response, the official said he led a training programme for 300 persons at New Amsterdam, Hampshire and Corriverton in Berbice.

“…They finished the training in December, and we will have a graduation ceremony soon…I will do it and have a job fair at the same time with recruiters. This is what I mean by targeting training in-country as part of the solution, and that is why we are doing the facility in Port Mourant,” he said.

Minister Singh explained to Guyana Standard that the institute is a necessity for the development of advanced skills, for building supervisory and management level capacity, and even as preparation for higher education degrees.

He also noted that the decision to situate the college in Berbice is consistent with government’s plans to decentralize the economic boom, which has been highly concentrated in the city.

President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, during a recent interview, also acknowledged the need to address Guyana’s human capacity constraints. He noted that there are varying development models used in other parts of the world, one of which entails a robust immigration policy that encourages the importation of labour for highly skilled positions. Notably, persons hired in such circumstances, he said, were not granted citizenship. In some parts of the world, however, such expatriate employees are allowed residency after a number of years spent.

Given that the scale of development is outstripping the local human resource pool, Ali said this is a policy his government must and is considering carefully. In the meantime, the focus remains on aggressively upskilling Guyanese so that those living here have a first bite of the “oil pie.” “The Port Mourant facility, soon to be unveiled, will enable Guyanese men and women to do just that,” said the Head of State.


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