Govt to create more jobs in rural areas to address unemployment – VP Jagdeo

– says will allow labour importation for major projects

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, cognisant of the need for jobs to be distributed equitably across the country, is looking to ensure that more jobs are made available to rural areas.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo

This is according to Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, who during a recent press conference noted that focus is being placed on skills training in areas such as heavy-equipment operators, electricians, plumbing, and carpentry – all of which are in high demand for Guyana’s construction boom.
“We still have pockets of unemployment. In other parts of the country, like in Region Four and maybe now Three, it is easier for people to find a job. And they’re already running up against labour shortages.”
“There are some skill types that we’re pushing ahead with training more. Heavy equipment operators that you can do small training for. Electricians, plumbers, carpenters. These are high-demand skill areas in the construction boom,” Jagdeo further related.
Another measure being looked at to provide jobs is the transportation of workers across the country. According to Jagdeo, this is just a temporary solution as Government works to create jobs and more economic activities in those rural communities and regions in the country.
Jagdeo disclosed, however, that the Government has no choice but to allow companies executing major infrastructure projects in Guyana to bring in foreign skilled workers as the country continues to grapple with labour shortages – lest these projects stall.
He noted, however, that while they are allowing some amount of labour importation, they are cautious about opening up the floodgates, especially since there are still these pockets of unemployment in some parts of the country. He made it clear that the Government is against the mass import of labour.
“We don’t want to open up to mass import of labour. Then we still have our own people in many parts of the country, who can’t find a job. And that’s why we’re encouraging a lot of the people who need workers… we said to them why not build facilities so that if people are coming from Linden or Region One or Six, they can stay in these facilities and go back on weekends.”
“Until we can get more investment in those communities, which is going to happen over time, we have the plan to take jobs and more economic activities into the rural areas, into Linden and the hinterland. So that is a big concern of ours,” Jagdeo further said.
Additionally, efforts are being placed on widening the scope for women in the workforce. Jagdeo noted that while more women have been formally employed in the labour force in urban areas, rural women lag behind.
“We’re trying to get more women into the labour force. So, the part-time jobs, many of them it’s the first time they’ve come out of the home. And we’re hoping… once you come out of the home for the first time, you start working even for 10 days, it starts building a work ethic.”
“Not that they didn’t have a work ethic, because many work very hard at home. But to come into the formal labour market. And we can easily bring in the rural, hinterland, maybe from Region 10, women, into the workforce,” the Vice President also said.
The Government has for some time been lamenting the shortage of labour. During a press conference in New Amsterdam, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) back in February, President Dr Irfaan Ali had revealed that all the private entities in Region Six are complaining about a shortage of labour. In fact, he had said that this is a national complaint.
The Head of State, who was wrapping a two-day visit to the region, had said Government is combing across the entire country to find available labour. Ali had pointed out that in the construction sector in Region Six there is a need for an additional 600 skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
According to Ali, the housing drive, which is national, has created a demand for labour that the country does not have. He pointed out that Guyanese living in the Caribbean might be able to fill a percentage of the gap in Region Six.
In May last year, Vice President Jagdeo had told the diaspora that there is a severe labour shortage, particularly for some types of skills. In fact, he had said that in some cases the Government may have to allow companies to bring in foreign labour to complete an individual project. (G-8)