Guyana has asked the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) to finance the training of local persons for the emerging oil and gas sector, even as top officials said foreigners would have to be employed if there are insufficient Guyanese to fill vacancies.
“A reverse linkage programme in technical and vocational training with emphasis on addressing the critical needs of our emerging oil and gas sector,” is one of several priority areas Finance Minister, Winston Jordan recently told the 44th annual meeting of the Islamic Bank Group held in Morocco.
Jordan’s announcement that Guyana wants to tap into IsDB funding coincided with the Head of the Department of Energy, Dr. Mark Bynoe’s disclosure to congregants of the Revealed Word Christian Center in Georgetown that oil industry companies were being asked to give priority to employing Guyanese. If the skills, he said, are unavailable the companies have to turn their attention to the overseas labour market.
“Part of the Department’s responsibility is to ensure Guyanese get what we call first consideration. But you won’t get first consideration just for the sake of first consideration. You have to have equal skills and equal competencies so if there are two jobs and the Guyanese can do it, we ask the companies that Guyanese must be employed first but if the Guyanese doesn’t have the skill then we have to build that skill going forward but in the interim we may be forced to employ someone else,” he said.
Bynoe said that of last year, 1,071 Guyanese, up from 458, were hired directly by the oil and gas sector. He said government has asked ExxonMobil to report every quarter on its contribution amount.
He said a range of job opportunities were available for electrical engineers, mechanical engineers and welders, among other trade skills.
During the question and answer session, a member of the congregation asked what provision could be made for the youths, who were at the street corners, but could deliver high-quality work. Scott said they would have to go to the CTVET office and undergo a variety of tests to prove their competency before they are awarded certificates.