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Register Your Skills: Work Permit Clarification
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Posted by:Mar 19th 2013, 01:33:49 pm
Tribune Staff Reporter

LABOUR Minister Shane Gibson said yesterday the government will only be issuing labour certificates in the “extreme” of circumstances to foreign workers.

#He made his comments while making his contribution in the House of Assembly to the mid-year Budget.

#Mr Gibson said it is imperative that Bahamians register their skills with the Department of Labour in order to get first preference on jobs they are qualified for.

#“As Minister with the responsibility for Labour, I have doubled my Ministry’s efforts to ensure that the skills data bank of the Department of Labour is fully utilized and that only in the extreme of circumstances are labour certificates granted to facilitate the employment of foreign workers. That is very important because most persons to not understand the importance of registering their skills at the skills data bank. In many instances we have given labour certificates because we cannot actually refer individuals who are registered in the skills data bank to employers, so we have to end up giving out labour certificates,” he said.

#“We thought the public would have recognized by now it is not business as usual and we are not issuing these labour certificates as was in the past. Concomitant with this commitment is the need to ensure that there is a need for expatriate expertise that there is a transfer of knowledge and Bahamians are identified as understudies. In many cases you have individuals working in the Bahamas for 10 or 15 years claiming to be holding a position that a Bahamian is not qualified to hold and employers make no sort of preparation to identify or appoint an understudy who would eventually take their place.”

#Mr Gibson’s comments comes one week after Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said his ministry also plans to clamp down on the number of work permits issued annually.

#Mr Mitchell said within about a year, the government will stop issuing work permits for maids, housekeepers and labourers and it is policy not to grant work permits where a Bahamian is well equipped to do the job.

#Between July and December 2012, the Employment Exchange division of the Department of Labour registered 1,278 new male and 1,842 new female registrants. Out of those numbers 829 were referred and 120 persons were placed, according to Mr Gibson.

#With this in mind, he said the groundwork has been laid for the National Training Agency which will better equip the Bahamian labour force with the necessary skills to meet current and future demands of the workplace.

#He said the agency’s work will initially target the age group 15-34 because unemployment is the highest in this grouping – in particular under age 25 where the employment rate is 32 per cent. The agency will begin its training based on four of the economy’s nine prominent industrial sectors – Hospitality and Tourism, Wholesale and Retail, Commercial and Clerical and Basic Auto Mechanics.

#The Minister said it is anticipated that the agency will begin its training activities in June with a formal launch in mid-April. Trainee registration is scheduled to begin in late April. Once the pilot programmes have been tested and adjusted as necessary, Mr Gibson said, the Agency will expand training to other sectors, including construction, personal and domestic services.

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