Guyana is endowed with considerable untapped natural resources, including minerals, agricultural lands, forests and water, which oil revenues could help develop. Enabling the growth of high value-added sectors in which Guyana has a comparative advantage based on its natural resources could facilitate the country’s gradual economic transformation, a 2020 World Bank report pointed out.
“The development of the nonoil resource sectors could also build the country’s stock of complementary or transferrable skills, easing the potential skills shortage that may arise during the country’s economic transition,” the Bank said.
According to Adam Gibson, Vice President of OES Asset Integrity Management, companies looking to operate in Guyana must be cognizant of the need to support skills training and capacity building initiatives and be ready to ensure employment leads to opportunity.
“Don’t confuse local content with just filling your percentage workforce with Guyanese. This is not about numbers, this is about investing in assets, investing in people, the long-term benefit for Guyana and the Guyanese people,” he said.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, said the shortage of skills in Guyana that are required for the oil sector must be taken into account as the government moves towards finalizing a local content framework. He said even in 2030, it is highly unlikely that Guyana will generate the range and depth of skills needed to fully exploit its oil resources extensively or to even align with its own ambitions for the resources that are available.
“You need far more engineers, economists, and geophysicists…And I know this statement may get me in trouble but half the time you can’t even find competent secretaries. But certainly, one of the issues facing Guyana in the oil sector is the need to generate more skills…” he said.
One business group has said it intends to prioritise skills and technology transfer between U.S. and Guyanese companies as business and investment opportunities in the new oil producing nation continue to increase.
“It is our goal in the coming years to encourage our members, especially U.S firms operating here in Guyana to make it a priority to aid in the transfer of technology to the local private sector, to work with them collaboratively, to enhance their capabilities and skills, and train Guyana’s talented resources in the technological and transformative ways of working and conducting business,” said Zulfikar Ally, President of the the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham).