Oct 20, 2018 News
Guyana’s brain drain is at worrying levels. Not only is there a disquieting loss of qualified individuals, but even semi-skilled persons. This revelation was recently made by the US State Department, specifically its Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.
In one of its most recent reports, the State Department noted that Guyana has primary, secondary, and technical schools. It also notes that the University of Guyana is the only public institution of higher learning in the country. There are a few other privately-owned institutions of higher learning.
Given Guyana’s human resources challenges, the Department said that most individual companies mount various programmes to develop the capacity and skills their workers need, specific to the company’s services.
Further to this, it said that emigration, particularly of skilled labourers, poses a serious problem to employers in Guyana. In fact, the Department reports that Guyana’s net emigration rate is estimated at 9.67 percent, the seventh highest in the world.
In this regard, it was highlighted that a study that was conducted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that 89 percent of university-educated Guyanese eventually leave the country to pursue better employment options abroad. The Department said that this represents the highest percentage of “brain drain” of any country.
It said, “Although more recent studies are unavailable, large private sector companies report a turnover of about 20-25 percent of their workforce annually and experience difficulty in recruiting and retaining qualified employees. Skilled workers often migrate to the United States, Canada, Europe, or other countries in the Caribbean.”
It said, too, that even semi-skilled workers, such as masons, carpenters, and heavy-duty operators, are in short supply.
Furthermore, the Department noted that Bank of Guyana estimates indicate that in 2016, Guyana’s labour force comprised 273,000 persons. In 2017, a Labour Force Study conducted by the Guyana National Bureau of Statistics and funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) reported that the unemployment rate was at 12 percent. The youth unemployment rate was reported at 21.6 percent. The US Department said that this is almost twice that of the total working population.
The Department noted, too, that approximately 22 percent of workers are unionized. It said that Guyana currently has 18 trade unions. Thirteen of these unions fall under the umbrella of the Guyana Trades Union Congress. The Department said that four of these unions are members of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana.
The Department said that the Trade Union Recognition Act of 1997 requires businesses operating in Guyana to recognize and collectively bargain with the trade union selected by a majority of its workers. It said, “The government, on occasion, has unilaterally imposed wage increases. Guyana adheres to the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention, protecting worker rights. Labour dispute mechanisms, such as arbitration, are commonplace.”
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