Huge demand for support services in oil & gas sector – UG Vice Chancellor
…underlines importance of expanding STEM, technical skills in workforce
With the oil and gas sector at the stage where it is employing more and more Guyanese, there is a huge demand for support services in the sector that include economics, finance, language and, of course, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field.
This is according to University of Guyana Vice Chancellor, Professor Paloma Mohamed Martin, while she was participating in a recent Guyana Business Journal and Caribbean Policy Consortium webinar. As she put it, it is the human capital of Guyana that will ensure its sustainability.
According to Mohamed Martin, some other needed initiatives are bringing on more STEM teachers. According to her, it is necessary for Guyana to scale up its existing workforce in STEM, to keep up with the demand for their services.
“The process of building a technically competent workforce cannot be successful if it is done in isolation from the education systems… The education and training infrastructure must therefore be developed as a true partnership… with the local universities, training institutions, and technical vocational institutes as well as operators and their service providers.”
“We have to scale up. We cannot keep up with the demand, for instance for engineers, persons in computing and so on. We are getting huge demand for support services, so international affairs, languages, economics, finance… that support these industries (oil and gas),” Mohamed Martin said.
The Vice Chancellor noted that she has been advocating for more emphasis on technology in the school systems. According to her, this is something that should start from as early as nursery school.
“We just ended our first programme… a regional STEM accelerator, where we had children ages nine to 13, working in our labs at the University residential for two weeks. I’m hoping to keep them in STEM and keep them excited. And the outcome of that is that the Ministry of Education will outfit about 30 schools in the hinterland region that did not have science labs before. And that is going to happen by the time school opens.”
“I’ve also been advocating for technology streams in schools. Specific to technology. And this should start from as early as nursery, because children nowadays interface with technology. And they understand it. And if you can build a curriculum or an interest from very early, we can see more,” the Vice Chancellor said.
Dr Cardinal Warde, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Science Foundation, was also present during the webinar. He supported Mohamed Martin’s take on the importance of STEM, while the oil sector is booming.
“The Government needs to get the people involved and get the people to be passionate about the new direction and science and technology and where it can take Guyana. Oil and gas will one day be gone… but I think we will be using fossil fuels for a while.”
“Using the resources that you have to diversify your economy now, and yes, we all agree, education is the key and developing the work force for the future is key towards diversifying the economy,” Warde said. (G3)