Guyana government and IOM reach agreement for future labour migration collaboration

15 February, 2021


The Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Labour, has committed to entering a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to formalise cooperation and future joint activities.  


This agreement was reached in January 2021, at a meeting between representatives from both bodies at the Ministry of Labour, Georgetown. The meeting included the Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton and IOM Chief of Mission in Guyana and Coordination Officer for the Caribbean, Robert Natiello. This collaborative initiative would aim to build government capacity in the area of labour migration and enhance migration governance in Guyana, as the country continues to develop its oil and gas and other sectors due to resulting economic growth.  


Under the Western Hemisphere Program, the IOM offered areas of collaboration that it can pursue with the support of the Ministry of Labour. As it relates to labour migration, the Organization highlighted that it is equipped to provide officials with training on ethical recruitment and the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), which is designed to help protect migrant workers and other actors throughout the recruitment process. 


IOM also offered separate trainings that directly address labour migration challenges, which would have union and employer participation, to address this growing area of concern. Additionally, IOM will work with the Ministry of Labour on mapping migrant skills and enhancing the understanding and collection of labour migration-related data and information to inform well-designed labour policies. The IOM Program is generously funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. 


Additionally, the IOM delegation shared information about the labour migration report that it compiled in 2020 and is currently in the final review phase. The report, entitled Planning for Prosperity: Labour Migration and Guyana’s Emerging Economy, includes findings and recommendation that address Guyana’s current labour migration landscape as it adapts to its growing economy through its oil and gas sector.  


In her presentation to the Ministry about the report, Senior Program Assistant, Nkayo Drepaul, explained that even with the perfect situation of a fully trained, reskilled and fully employed Guyanese national work force, there would still be a high demand for foreign labour. She noted that there are several sources for foreign labour, including the Guyanese diaspora, CSME Member States, and those even further abroad which the government can consider investigating further as it drafts policies.  


According to Minister Hamilton, his administration has planned to implement initiatives that would improve the governments capacity to handle issues that encompass both labour and migration. With regard to the labour ministry, the Minister said plans are already underway to formulate a better understanding of the country’s labour skills potential, and to build capacity of its labour officers, and occupational health and safety officers in the new future.  


During the meeting, the Minister highlighted several high priority initiatives that the Ministry will implement. The Ministry, he explained, aims to complete a labour assessment survey of the formal sector. Results from this assessment will then be used to prepare the labour ministry to better respond to the labour demands of the emerging oil and gas, and peripheral sectors.  


In addition to this survey, Minister Hamilton said that his ministry will conduct trainings for its labour, and occupational health and safety officers to aid in the enforcement of labour and health regulations, which was underscored by COVID-19’s impact on the labour sector. Furthermore, the Ministry of Labour will provide officers with multi-lingual training so that they can communicate with migrant workers. Labour and occupational officers will also see increased presence throughout the regions so that the Ministry can manage and address labour specific issues in their respective regions. Lastly, Minister Hamilton shared that his administration will oversee the modernisation of the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency.