Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
International Energy Conference Panel Discussion: Skills Development and the Future of Work
February 14, 2023
To the leadership of the 2023 Energy Expo and today’s panelists – good day! While I wish I could be with you in person, I am happy to offer some quick thoughts on the important topic of the Future of Work in Guyana.
In my now four years as U.S. Ambassador, Guyana’s economy has changed rapidly, and so has the nature of the work done here. Who could have predicted just ten years ago that Guyana would become an energy powerhouse? Who can predict now what the economy will look like in the next ten years? But I can tell you that despite Guyana’s massive rainforest, incredible rivers, and impressive natural resources, Guyana’s most valuable resource is her people.
A key question so many of us are asking and addressing is how can we make sure all Guyanese benefit from these extraordinary changes and opportunities? How do we provide Guyanese with the tools they need to succeed?
Everyone knows education and training are key, and I applaud all the companies here today, including U.S. companies, that offer critical education and training opportunities to their employees and others. But, besides education and training, health care, infrastructure and food security will be critical to the future of work in Guyana.
As the economy changes, the kind of work you do will change as well. Some jobs won’t exist as technology and capabilities advance, but others are rapidly being developed.
One way to create more jobs in Guyana will be the introduction of more reliable and less expensive electricity. For too long, high electricity costs have stymied Guyanese manufacturing. As Minister Ashni Singh often notes, it’s unfortunate to drink a juice in Guyana that comes from fruit grown in Guyana but that was processed in another country because of the high cost of manufacturing here. Therefore, I want to congratulate CH4, Lyndsayca, ExxonMobil, and the Government of Guyana for signing the Gas to Energy project which will reduce the cost of electricity and unlock investment throughout the Guyanese economy.
But, energy is only the beginning.
Agriculture will continue to be a huge employer in the future, but it will include new techniques and more modern equipment. It will involve better use of data, storage, transportation, marketing, and distribution. Today’s small farmer will be tomorrow’s agribusiness. Therefore, I’m proud of the United States Agency for International Development’s work to promote agricultural entrepreneurship and for providing critical expertise including bringing U.S. agriculture experts to Guyana to help with the development of that sector.
Also in the future, more Guyanese will be employed in the growing health care sector. That means giving Guyanese the health care they deserve, so that all Guyanese have healthier, more productive lives. And, we’re thrilled that U.S. company, the Hess Corporation. has partnered with world-leading health experts at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and the Ministry of Health to holistically look at health care in Guyana, including important e-signature legislation which will improve systems and decrease wait times for Guyanese seeking health care.
In fact, modernizing government services across sectors, including tourism, will improve efficiencies and unlock untold opportunities.
The Guyanese are an entrepreneurial people and entrepreneurs will play a huge role in the future of this nation. But, too often there are barriers that prevent their businesses from growing to their full potential. To help entrepreneurs, the U.S. Embassy has partnered with the American Chamber of Commerce to provide financial literacy and business counselling to help small businesses take the leap, not to mention a host of efforts on access to finance where our team is working with a variety of partners to push for tangible results.
Most importantly, the workforce of tomorrow must be a diverse and inclusive workforce. A growing economy cannot afford to leave any of its people behind. That is why the U.S. Embassy works with business leaders from all backgrounds and of all types – from female business owners to owners who are physically challenged to young business owners as well.
From the oil reserves to the rainforest, Guyana has incredible resources. However, as I said at the outset, Guyana’s most important resource is its people. At the U.S. Embassy, we are committed to helping U.S. businesses and Guyanese work together to invest in Guyana’s citizens to meet your future human capital needs.