Caribbean countries call for more human capital from diaspora

Guyana, Barbados looking for diaspora to be more involved with their respective home countries’ economies

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA — With some Caribbean countries concerned about a possible lack of human capital amongst their labour force, nations like Barbados and Guyana are calling for members of their respective diasporas to take advantage of job opportunities available to them.

Guyanese President Dr. Irfaan Ali was the latest head of state to publicly make the call, telling the diaspora: “We need people, and we need people badly.”

jobs in Guyana

Guyanese President President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.

The nation is in the midst of such explosive economic growth that it is projected to need another 160,000 workers on top of what the country already has just to keep up with the pace.

President Ali alluded to the economy’s overwhelming success as he urged members of the Guyanese diaspora to join in and claim a slice of the pie.

After travelling all the way to Toronto, Canada, to address them, Ali urged: “Rediscover your country; rediscover its future and then make appropriate decisions.

“There is no doubt we are talking about an economy that will be a US$10 billion economy by 2030.

“We are talking GDP per capita that will move to be about US$30 thousand.”

An office release from the government’s media arm also emphasized ongoing efforts to shore up human capital by “heavy investments” into education and initiatives to support economic diversification.

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    Barbadian diaspora told to “come home”

    jobs in Barbados

    Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

    Similar calls were made by Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley in recent years, as the country prepared to move forward with legislation that would make it easier for Barbadian descendants to migrate to the country.

    Barbados has been among the Caribbean nations earnestly seeking ways to diversify its economy away from tourism in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In particular, it has focused on two major industries identified by the World Bank as sectors ideal for economic growth in the Caribbean with more development: digital services and renewable energy.

    At the time, Mottley said in a televised national address: “Barbadians who have skills in these areas of new economy can come home, can engage the world from here…

    “We believe that those opportunities are there and we want to encourage you, come on home. Come on home.”


    Continued migration challenges

    Both appeals for diaspora participation come as brain drain remains a serious problem in many Caribbean countries.

    Brain drain is still a problem in many Caribbean countries.

    In a recent report, the World Bank noted that "tertiary-educated [often] leave Caribbean countries in large numbers," exacerbating skills gaps and putting a strain on human capital.

    This is often because young, educated residents struggle to find job opportunities that are on par with their qualifications.

    Meanwhile, CARICOM has yet to enact its proposed Single Market and Economy (CSME) initiative, which would allow for the free movement of skilled workers across participating member-states.

    Reaching out to members of their respective diasporas may be a solution for Caribbean countries to address this challenge.

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