Guyana working to strategically integrate more women into oil & gas workforce – VP Jagdeo
Guyanese authorities have said they are working to empower more women with the skills needed to tap into the growing opportunities in the nation’s booming economy.
Since 2015, a series of major oil discoveries and the start of production has propelled the small South American country to become the fastest growing economy in the world.
Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, during an interview with OilNow, said it is imperative that women, the bedrock of society, account for a greater part of the labour force in the future.
To achieve this, he said, the Government has launched a multi-faceted plan that seeks to break stereotypes that suggest that the man alone is the breadwinner of the home.
“Historically, we have not had enough women in our workforce. This is for cultural reasons and otherwise, so we need to have them integrated,” expressed the Vice President.
As oil sector activities continue to propel further growth in agriculture, construction, services, tourism and other industries, Dr. Jagdeo said, the country would reach its tipping point with employment. He said it is critical that Government moves with alacrity to expand the labour force by 50% to 60%. If more women are empowered, the Vice President believes, gap can be closed. He said this does not negate the need to tap the expertise of the Guyanese Diaspora.
Dr. Jagdeo said this is an area in which the administration would continue to be aggressive. The Vice President said, “With the Part-Time Job programme that we have, we are seeing that we are starting to create a culture of leaving the home and coming out…and ultimately they (women) would move on to find more permanent placements; so that is the idea.”
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He also stressed the importance of the role of the Education Ministry in upskilling educators and modernising institutions as Guyana accelerates development. “So, it is a Government policy to have more women supporting the development of this country; and we have strong, intelligent women in the Cabinet to lead the charge on this by using their respective portfolios.”
In 2022, Guyana was cautioned by the International Labour Organization (ILO) about the impacts of labour shortage on its economic growth. ILO said in its report that Guyana lacks more than 60% of the technical skills needed to keep up with its rapid pace of development. It also stressed that the country is not churning out enough graduates to meet the growing demand.
Guyanese authorities are forging ahead with the establishment of the Guyana Technical Training College Inc. ExxonMobil Guyana is supporting this initiative, along with other key stakeholders, such as its prime contractor, SBM Offshore. The institution is intended to deliver world-class training and certification to Guyanese workers in five main skills areas: electrical, mechanical, instrumentation, and process operations, to support the oil and gas industry as well as civil and building construction, to support the broader economy.
The Guyanese Government has also utilised loans from the Inter-American Development Bank as well as the World Bank to expand the competencies of its people.
In 2021, the Government launched the Guyana Online Academy of Learning with the aim of providing 20,000 scholarships to pursue online tertiary-level programmes via partnerships with reputable international universities.