Govt wants Venezuelan migrants in Guyana to be properly trained & certified

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton

Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton has revealed that the Guyana Government is working on an initiative aimed at ensuring Venezuelan migrants who are living in the country are properly trained and certified to join the local labour force.

He was at the time responding to questions in the National Assembly from Opposition Member of Parliament Tabitha Sarabo-Halley on Thursday regarding whether the Ministry has conducted a skills audit of Venezuelan migrants here.

According to Minister Hamilton, the government has to first get a better understanding of the number of migrants in the country as well as a detailed breakdown on their gender and current skillsets.

He said the 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 in a definitive way about what has happened since August 2020 up to today regarding the issue about an audit of skillsets of Venezuelan migrants,” he further explained.

Nevertheless, the Minister said the government continues to engage with various international partners on the subject of Venezuelan migrants in the country.

These organisations include the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd had noted 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 in March 2024.

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 in search of betterment here.

Venezuelan migrants seeking refuge in Guyana are being encouraged to present themselves to immigration authorities to get registered in order 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 regularisation of these migrants thus preventing or reducing their vulnerability to trafficking, 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 into 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 work 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.