Guyana president wants changes in labour, education

Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali
Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali

Guyana’s President Dr Irfaan Ali has called for the re-engineering of the entire labour and education system to match today’s reality.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 12th International Labour Organization (ILO) meeting of Caribbean ministers of labour in Guyana, taking place from May 23-25.

Ali said, “We live in a world where it is estimated 34 per cent of all business-related tasks are performed by machines, while 66 per cent of the tasks are performed by humans. This tells us that our human resources must be redirected, retrained and retold how to work in a world of machines.”

He also emphasised the importance of participating in such meetings as they provide critical analysis of the challenges being faced and help identify areas of renewed co-operation between member countries.

Guyana has hosted the ILO Caribbean ministers of labour meeting three times in the last 25 years: in 1998, in 2010 and now in 2023.

The three-day meeting includes ministers of labour and senior officials from 13 ILO member states and nine non-metropolitan territories in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, business organisations and trade unions.

With the theme Social Justice: the Foundation for Sustainable Caribbean Transformation, the meeting provides a forum for participating Caribbean world-of-work leaders to:

• exchange perspectives on the global, regional, and national actions required to accelerate the mainstreaming of social justice for transformative socio-economic development in the current multi-crisis context;

• address labour migration as a potential enabler of decent work and acceleration factor in Caribbean development. This includes assessing the importance of systemic, rights-based and inclusive approaches to governance challenges in a hyper-mobile region; and

• examine Caribbean progress on the "Just Transition" policy and institutional mechanisms. Also determine priorities for action and ILO technical assistance for the 2024-25 biennium.

In his feature remarks, ILO director-general Gilbert F Houngbo said the impacts of covid19, climate change and global conflicts have worsened pre-existing weakness such as unemployment levels, poverty and inequality. Global leaders now have no choice but to rethink how they approach the socio-economic development challenges.

“This platform provides the opportunity for members to discuss and articulate solutions to these challenges through the social justice lens,” he added.

Director of the ILO Caribbean office Dennis Zulu said, “This era of socio-economic instability and uncertainty calls for a strong framework of social justice to achieve a future for work that puts people first. By creating conditions in which all can work in freedom and dignity, social justice enables equal access to opportunities, boosts productivity, builds socio-economic security and enables just transitions.”

Labour Minister of Guyana Joseph Hamilton addressed his regional counterparts, sharing his optimism for greater collaboration, increased exchange programmes and the reinvention of technical education programmes to ensure more people benefit.

He ended: “There must be a roadmap of where we go from here, otherwise we would be failing our people.”


"Guyana president wants changes in labour, education"

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