World Bank approves US$44M to boost human capital in Guyana as demand for skilled labour increases

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The World Bank’s latest economic assessment has found that the new oil producing country of Guyana is experiencing an increasingly serious shortfall in its labour market, as training offerings have not adapted to the emerging needs of the economy.

The financial institution reasoned that on the one hand, the country has one of the highest emigration rates in the world. It is estimated that 550,000 Guyana nationals reside abroad, many of whom are considered highly skilled. At the same time, the bank said the rapid development of the oil and gas industry has severely increased the demand for skilled workers and technicians, with an estimated 160,000 additional workers needed for Guyana to realise its full growth potential.

While there is no recent comprehensive survey of skills in short supply in Guyana, the bank said it has taken note of the fact that representatives for the oil and gas industry have repeatedly mentioned that the industry suffers from a crucial shortage of skills required.

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In light of the foregoing grounds, the World Bank said on Friday that it feels justified in approving US$44M to fund the Guyana Strengthening Human Capital through Education Project. The project will focus on expanding access to quality education at the secondary level, as well as improving technical and vocational training (TVET) to meet the needs of the labour market. The funding also aims to prepare Guyanese citizens to excel in emerging sectors of the economy including climate-resilient agriculture, low-carbon technology, and digital development.

The proposed project would support the Government’s secondary education reform agenda as well as different trajectories and modalities of obtaining an education by incorporating interventions addressing constraints related to access, quality, and relevance. This is expected to help youth in Guyana reach their full potential and participate productively in the economy.

Activities under the project are expected to benefit at least 60,744 students and 2,128 teachers and principals at the secondary level. At the TVET level, a minimum of 600 students and 140 secondary and post-secondary TVET trainers will benefit from professional development activities.

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On Friday, Diletta Doretti, World Bank Resident Representative for Guyana and Suriname, said the project complements other education initiatives that the World Bank is supporting, as the government is working to ensure that more people can acquire the needed skills to benefit from the ongoing economic transformation which will span into 2050.

Due to the recent oil and gas discoveries, the World Bank was keen to note that Guyana stands at the threshold of a new economic era. It stressed that the discovery of vast offshore oil and gas reserves is poised to fundamentally transform the structure of the Guyanese economy while generating an influx of fiscal revenue.

It noted that the discovery opens up employment opportunities for both specialised technicians and semi-skilled workers in the associated supply chains, hence the importance and timeliness of the project.

However, for increased income to lead to meaningful gains for the population, it cautioned that Guyana must consistently seek to improve its human capital and reduce poverty levels while maintaining macroeconomic stability and environmental sustainability.


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