Guyana in danger of insufficient local engineers, other professionals – ILO warns

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has done a study and produced a report warning that given the current number of graduates in technical fields such as engineering, Guyana is in danger of not having enough locals to fill these fields as the oil and gas sector grows.

In its report titled: Prospective Occupational Skill Needs in the Guyanese Oil and Gas Industry, 2022-2026, the ILO warned that this danger would manifest if Guyana continued to produce tertiary education graduates in engineering at the current rate.

The Organisation noted that between 2020 and 2021, there were a total of 172 local tertiary graduates in fields directly linked to the oil and gas industry’s most in-demand jobs over the next few years.

“A somehow simplistic but possibly useful exercise consists in comparing the number of graduates to the needs of the economy. At first sight, if one limits the analysis to the sample of respondents, the number of tertiary students graduating in relevant subjects may be able – if sustained over the next years – to fulfil the estimated demand in the industry,” the ILO said.

“For example, 268 engineers expected to be hired over the next five years could be ‘supplied’ locally if 172 engineers graduate yearly from the University of Guyana. If one considers the entirety of the oil and gas value chain (our sample represents 48 per cent of the total employment therein), the graduate supply will likely be barely sufficient for its needs.”

The ILO pointed out, however, that when the rest of the economy was considered, the current number of tertiary education graduates in technical, oil and gas and other related fields was not enough to meet Guyana’s labour market needs.

“This is, in particular, true for the category of health and safety professionals (50 of them will be needed in the next five years in the industry) which normally require a higher education degree associated with relevant work experience. From the analysis of offer of higher education, it appears that dedicated degrees are not currently offered in Guyana (in this field),” the ILO said.

When it comes to Guyana’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme, the ILO noted that there are gaps in terms of providing training and adequate local personnel for two of the most in-demand oil and gas professions in the industry – ship deck crew and ship and aircraft controllers and technicians.

“Skills associated with those occupations are perceived to be extremely scarce in Guyana. While local offer of training in those fields is extremely limited or non-existent, it is to be noted that according to international regulations, only countries assessed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as properly implementing the STCW-95 Convention40 can certify mariners.”

“Guyana’s maritime administration is not in this list of assessed countries (known as the whitelist), in consequence, it is not possible for the country to open a maritime academy and train and certify mariners locally,” the ILO further explained in the report.

Since it first discovered oil in Guyana’s waters in 2015, ExxonMobil has spent more than $140 billion on local suppliers and is responsible for more than 4400 Guyanese being employed to support its activities – 64 per cent of the industry’s workforce.

ExxonMobil is currently undertaking four production projects – Liza 1, Liza 2, Payara and Yellowtail in the oil-rich Stabroek Block. Production only started this year in the Liza 2 development, which is said to produce even lighter crude than Liza 1.

It is also estimated that when the Yellowtail development project comes on stream, production will climb to 810,000 barrels per day (bpd) by 2027. The US oil major anticipates at least six Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels producing one million bpd by 2030.

The third project – the Payara development – will meanwhile target an estimated resource base of about 600 million oil-equivalent barrels, and was at one point considered to be the largest single planned investment in the history of Guyana.

Meanwhile, the Yellowtail development, which will be ExxonMobil’s fourth development in Guyana’s waters, will turn out to be the single largest development so far in terms of barrels per day of oil, with a mammoth 250,000 bpd targeted. ExxonMobil has said it anticipated at least six projects offshore Guyana would be online by 2027.