Aviation industry losing workers to oil and gas sector – GCAA

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
A view from offshore Guyana where oil production and exploration activities are ongoing

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has bemoaned a situation whereby the aviation industry is losing workers to the oil and gas sector.

“With the rapid transformation of Guyana, this challenge of staff resignation is not unique to the GCAA but has been an aviation industry experience with staff leaving the industry to pursue other careers especially in oil and gas sector, where the salaries are perceivably higher,” the GCAA revealed in a statement to the media on Tuesday.

The organisation was at the time responding to an article regarding staff resignations within the past year, wherein it was reported that 20 air traffic services staff had resigned.

But the GCAA said there were only nine resignations associated with air traffic services for the period January to December 2023. This includes seven air traffic controllers and two AIS/AIM officers.

According to the GCAA, from the exit interviews conducted, three employees related that “better opportunities” was their reason for leaving while the other six referenced non-financial reasons.

Nevertheless, the GCAA acknowledged that its pay level is not in comparison to the rest of the Caribbean region but noted that efforts are being address to address this at all levels of the organisation.

“Air Traffic Controllers are paid on scales CA4 to CA9. Air Traffic Control Assistant starts on scale CA4 (minimum $216,502) and works all the way up to ATS/ACC Supervisor on scale CA9 (minimum $596,065).

“In November 2023, the ANS (Air Navigation Services) Director submitted a proposal to adjust the salary scale for all staff of the ANS and this proposal is currently under review by the Management of GCAA,” the statement revealed.

In fact, the GCAA said its management has undertaken, in tandem with the review of the ANS salary proposal, to also develop a policy to address increments along the salary scale based on workers’ annual appraisals.

Engineers

Only recently, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana Professor Paloma Mohamed-Martin revealed that engineer students from the institution are being absorbed by oil and gas companies even before they graduate.

“…our engineering programme is a first-degree programme…now if you want a specialist, you need to take that person, [and] the oil and gas industry has been taking them and putting them through programmes,” she related.

As a result, she explained that the local industries are suffering.

“We have tripled the number of engineers we were producing since 2020 but still that’s not enough, because they’re getting absorbed before they graduate into the international private sector, and the local private sector is losing them, the Government sector is losing them…,” the UG Vice-Chancellor said.

SBM Offshore offers an engineering programme. Last year, eight Guyanese graduate engineers completed the programme.

Seven of the graduates – Malik Lewis, Andy Sattan, Tanisha Selby, Paula Ceres, Raymond Luckhoo, Kishaun Lall and Daniel Troyer – received training in the Netherlands and then Singapore for six months each, where they gained hands-on training on the Prosperity FPSO. The eighth graduate, Maryam Nasir, was trained in Monaco and the Netherlands, where she participated in the creation of a Digital Twin for the Prosperity FPSO– a digital replica of the vessel, designed to enable information management. Following the completion of the training, the Graduates were awarded official placements within the company.

In April 2023, the company had reported that a new batch of graduate engineers have been recruited as the second cohort of the programme, in alignment with SBM Offshore Guyana’s ongoing initiatives to build local capacity.

Nevertheless, in an effort to address this situation, Professor Mohamed- Martin, said the institution plans to expand its Faculty of Engineering and Technology this year, in an effort to train more Guyanese.

According to her, UG recently had its highest number of graduates in the engineering sector, representing a 72% increase in the last six years. This included the first batch of petroleum engineering graduates.