Describing in detail the plans and programmes of the Ministry of Labour, Minister Joseph Hamilton on Friday affirmed that the newly-established Ministry was able to hit the ground running and has achieved quite a lot since the PPP/C administration took office in August this year.
“What the Labour Ministry has done in six weeks, in five years the past (APNU/AFC) Government did not do,” Hamilton asserted as he faced questions from Opposition Members during the consideration of the capital estimates for the various Heads under his Ministry.
When the APNU/AFC Government took the reigns of power in 2015, it reduced the Ministry of Labour to a mere department within the Social Protection Ministry.
Hamilton told the National Assembly that under the PPP/C administration, a full-fledged Ministry is being reestablished to tackle all the challenges confronting labour and to help build capacity of the country’s workforce.
He explained that at present, there is a serious shortage of staff for the various departments within the Ministry, both in technical as well as administrative areas.
Filling the vacancies is critical, he said, in order to ensure the Ministry is equipped with the human resources needed to effectively carry out its functions.
According to Hamilton, the Ministry is working to ensure that there are at least two labour officers and two health and safety officers in each of the ten Administrative Regions.
Another important area of focus, he outlined, is training for staff members within the Ministry and young people across Guyana.
To this end, he noted that the $140 million allocated to the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) will bring the institution to the level it should be.
“The Board of Industrial Training is not where it should be and we have already planned and outlined where it will be going,” he told the House.
The Minister explained that efforts have commenced to expand the BIT programme and to take its services to young people across Guyana, adding that the Ministry has already engaged other training institutions such as the Critchlow Labour College and the Kuru Kururu College to see where they can collaborate.
The BIT, he expressed, will also focus on upgrading and training staff members. In this regard, he noted that the Ministry has started foreign language training.
“We have already identified twenty-four staff members to start Portuguese, we will also have a programme to train staff members to do Spanish and Chinese”.
Meanwhile, APNU/AFC MP Coretta McDonald suggested that the Minister also focus on ensuring that persons are trained in the areas of collective bargaining and other labour issues.