Venezuelan migrants in Guyana to be trained, certified to join workforce – Min Hamilton

Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton

Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton has told the National Assembly that the Guyana Government is working on an initiative aimed at ensuring Venezuelan migrants are properly trained and certified to join the local labour force.
Responding to a question from Opposition Member of Parliament Tabitha Sarabo-Halley regarding whether the Ministry has conducted a skills audit of Venezuelan migrants here, Minister Hamilton told the National Assembly on Thursday that
Government has to first get a better understanding of the number of migrants in the country, as well as a detailed breakdown of their gender and current skillsets.
However, he said that Government is currently engaged in conversations with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to sponsor a programme for Venezuelan migrants in Guyana to be trained through the Board of Industrial Training (BIT).
“…and for those who have a skill, to work with them to ensure they can be accredited and certified,” the Labour Minister explained. “All of these things are a work in progress,” he added.
“By the end of the third quarter, we should have a preliminary report to speak definitively about what has happened since August 2020 up to today regarding the issue of an audit of skillsets of Venezuelan migrants,” he clarified.
Nevertheless, Minister Hamilton has said that Government continues to engage with various international partners on the subject of Venezuelan migrants in the country.
Those organisations include the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd had noted in March 2024 that the long-term objective is to integrate Venezuelan migrants into Guyanese society. He was at the time chairing a meeting of the Multi-Agency Coordinating Committee to address the influx of migrants from Venezuela into Guyana.
The Government of Guyana has always taken a policy decision to offer humanitarian assistance to migrants fleeing from Venezuela.
Venezuelans have been entering Guyana’s territory in droves in recent times, fleeing harsh economic conditions in their homeland as they search for betterment here. Venezuelan migrants seeking refuge in Guyana are being encouraged to present themselves to immigration authorities to get registered to benefit from services offered by the Government.
Registration is made easy through the implementation of “roaming immigration officers” who traverse the areas usually populated by migrants and offer registration and extension of stay services remotely. This process is focused on the regularisation of these migrants, thus preventing or reducing their vulnerability to trafficking and sexual and labour exploitation.
In Guyana, all children of migrants, legal and illegal, from Venezuela and other countries are allowed full access to be enrolled in the public school system within the host communities, and to benefit from Government-funded support programmes, including school feeding programmes, school uniform vouchers, and the “Because We Care” cash grants given to all students.
Reports indicate that there are about 40,000 Venezuelan migrants residing in Guyana, with only 21,704 officially documented.
Meanwhile, due to severe labour shortages in the country, the Government has already taken steps to import labour for certain jobs.
“We’ve said over and over, and I’ve repeated this: that in some areas, we’re allowing labour to come in to work. We pointed out that we’re allowing the Chinese to bring in their labour for the bridge, and they said they were gonna bring people from Bangladesh to work there, because they worked with them in building the stadium in Qatar for the World Cup…We allowed others to bring in labour because we have a labour shortage in Region Four, particularly for some types of labour. And if we want these projects to be completed – the bridges, the highways etc. — we have to do that,” Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo had recently contended.