Guyana’s economy grew 43.5% in 2020. Government expects that it will grow 57.8% in 2022. This growth requires a labour force that can meet the needs of an emerging economy.
The Migration Policy Institute estimated that Guyana will need at least 160,000 more workers to sustain the economic growth brought on by the exploration for and development of its oil and gas resources. It expects most of this lot will have to be sourced from overseas.
It said even if the country were to harness all unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged Guyanese workers, domestic supply would only amount to 63,500 workers. The institute explained that the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) had said Guyana will need to attract a minimum of 100,000 workers to realise its full growth potential.
The Migration Policy Institute discussed the various complexities of Guyanese society where migrants are concerned. This includes the decades-long continuous exodus of skilled talent to developed countries, that drained the South American nation of vital human resources. It also includes an influx of Venezuelan migrants due to the recent economic collapse of the Bolivarian Republic, and of skilled citizens of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) who qualify to move and work freely.
Accordingly, the Institute said these are the groups Guyana should look to, to eliminate its coming labour shortfall.
“Guyana lacks a comprehensive migration policy to address evolving migration trends and meet the country’s needs,” the institute said. It also pointed to IOM advice that Guyana establish an information centre to conduct labour market and skills gap analyses regularly, taking stock of the skillsets of migrants already in the country.
Guyana has put a lot of effort into attracting its diaspora, through holding conferences and other events, as well as offering special incentives to reintegrate them upon their return.
The country will continue to see rapid growth as a result of oil and gas, as new projects come on in this decade. However, government intends to facilitate growth of several sectors alongside oil and gas, to ensure its economy diversifies and is not vulnerable to oil price fluctuation.