Government will be looking at closing additional categories of work permits including masons, carpenters, electricians, plumbers; and placing additional restrictions on categories including waiters, servers, secretaries and caregivers.
“The public will recall that in February 2011, the Government implemented a moratorium on certain job categories. These include cleaners, landscape gardeners, kitchen porters and skilled labourers,” Minister Patrice Minors said yesterday [Jan.12].
“During this period applications for work permits in these categories have not been considered, except for those persons who are supervisors, team leaders and trainers. In many other cases guest workers have been asked to settle their affairs and leave the Island.”
“This initiative was designed to create real job opportunities for Bermudians. I am pleased to report today that as a result, hundreds of job opportunities have been created and many Bermudians have secured jobs in these fields.
“As a result of the moratorium the Landscaping Association was formed. An organization that brings Bermuda’s landscaping companies together for the first time as one cohesive body. I am encouraged by the ongoing dialogue and their collective efforts.”
“Over the next week, I will be consulting with employer groups and the Bermuda Industrial Union to discuss further categories that will be closed to work permits. This may include non-specialist constructions jobs, including masons, carpenters, electricians, plumbers,” said Minister Minors.
Last month, BIU President Chris Furbert said, “I would like before the Government issues one work permit, that – for now – all work permits should be put on hold until Bermudians are seen fit to get a fair share in the workplace.”
Minister Minors continued: “I will also be discussing categories that may also be added to the restricted list, including waiters, servers, landscapers, and possibly secretaries and caregivers where employers will have to first demonstrate that they have hired a certain percentage of Bermudians including trainees before a work permit is considered.
“Once this list has been finalised they it will be made available to the public and will also be updated regularly depending on change in the status of the numbers of Bermudians still looking for work.”
Minister Minors — who holds the Economy, Trade and Industry portfolio — went on to discuss various Government job creation initiatives including the Hospitality Job Fair, Waiter/Server Certification programme, Small Jobs Initiative, and assistance provided by the Department of Labour and Training and the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
Premier Paula Cox said, “Yesterday, I announced that I was publishing the Incentives for Job Makers. Today is the announcement of another prong of the Government’s strategy to create jobs for Bermudians.”
“All able-bodied Bermudians should be able to obtain a job before work permits are granted, particularly in the jobs that do not require specialised qualifications. While we may not able to get the jobs that we desire, we should be able to get a job to pay the bills until the jobs that we desire become available.”
Minister Minors’ full statement follows below:
I am pleased today to provide an update on our efforts to secure jobs for Bermudians.
You will be aware that in accordance with the 2010 census data, the current unemployment rate in Bermuda stands at 6% as a result, the Government has put in place a network of initiatives, which include short-term stimulus programs and medium to long-term changes in policies, programs and legislation to drive economic growth and job creation.
In the short-term, we are helping Bermudians to adjust to the changing labour market so that they can secure jobs and prepare themselves for better jobs in the future.
On October 19, 2011, it was announced that the 10-year work permits would go into effect November 1, and yesterday the Premier, the Hon. Paula A. Cox, JP, MP, as Minister of Finance shared the guidelines for the Incentives for Jobmakers Act which came into operation on 1st January, 2012.
These initiatives address unemployment from a different angle as we need to do all we can to let the international business community know that ‘Bermuda is open for business’.
When international businesses set up in Bermuda it creates a ‘multiplier effect’ in the formation of jobs – direct jobs within the companies, which in turn create jobs for people in the construction, housing, service, hospitality sectors etc.
However, International Business is but one area targeted for job creation and the public will recall that in February 2011, the Government implemented a moratorium on certain job categories. These include cleaners, landscape gardeners, kitchen porters and skilled labourers.
During this period applications for work permits in these categories have not been considered, except for those persons who are supervisors, team leaders and trainers. In many other cases guest workers have been asked to settle their affairs and leave the Island.
This initiative was designed to create real job opportunities for Bermudians.
I am pleased to report today that as a result, hundreds of job opportunities have been created and many Bermudians have secured jobs in these fields. We are encouraged by the employers’ willingness to work with us in the best interest of Bermuda. We are also encouraged by those Bermudian workers who have adapted to the changing environment and become productive employees in their new jobs.
As a result of the moratorium the Landscaping Association was formed. An organization that brings Bermuda’s landscaping companies together for the first time as one cohesive body. I am encouraged by the ongoing dialogue and their collective efforts.
Over the next week, I will be consulting with employer groups and the Bermuda Industrial Union to discuss further categories that will be closed to work permits. This may include non-specialist constructions jobs, including masons, carpenters, electricians, plumbers.
I will also be discussing categories that may also be added to the restricted list, including waiters, servers, landscapers, and possibly secretaries and caregivers where employers will have to first demonstrate that they have hired a certain percentage of Bermudians including trainees before a work permit is considered.
Once this list has been finalised they it will be made available to the public and will also be updated regularly depending on change in the status of the numbers of Bermudians still looking for work.
Likewise I am encouraged by the ongoing efforts of the Bermuda Hotel Association and its members.
During the course of last year this organization partnered with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to host two significant hospitality job fairs.
The hotels are currently in the process of interviewing applicants from the 2012 Hospitality Job Fair as they prepare for the upcoming season.
While it is too early to comprehensively determine how many jobs will be secured by Bermudians, the hotels are committed to filling as many of the more than 600 positions as they can with qualified Bermudians. However here are a few employment stats from Job Fair 2011that I can offer thus far:
Grotto Bay – 6
Hamilton Princess – 3
Southampton- 66 interviewed – 10 given offers
Mid Ocean – 1
Cambridge Beaches – 3
Meanwhile, I am pleased to announce today that the first day scheduled for ‘pre-employment’ job placement interviews for the first 14 persons that have been accepted into the Waiter/Server Certification programme is Thursday, 19th January, 2012.
The public will recall that the Government of Bermuda stated its intention to re-train displaced Bermudian workers for waiter/server positions currently held by work permit holders.
This programme launched late last year in conjunction with the BHA and the Restaurant Division of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce (BCC). The first group training commenced in December 2011.
The programme is designed for those with minimum dining room experience. It covers basic food, wine and beverage service.
The standard of performance for the techniques of service presented in this programme is based on the International Business & Gourmet Standards of Hospitality (IBGS).
Thus far 54 persons have been accepted into the progamme and training commencement dates have been scheduled. All 54 persons are guaranteed jobs upon successful completion of the course work.
Our collective goal is to re-train and employ 100 Bermudians as phase one of this programme.
The application process remains open and I am today encouraging interested persons to contact the Department of Labour and Training to register for the Waiter/Server Certification programme.
Meanwhile, the Department of Labour and Training continues to work with the wider community to secure employment opportunities for all persons seeking employment. During the last quarter of 2011, one hundred and forty-nine (149) new clients registered with the Department and four hundred and eighty (480) clients re-registered, indicating that they continued to seek employment.
The Department of Labour and Training assisted with 96 job placements in October and November and are in the processing of finalizing the December statistics to determine December’s total which will provide for the Department’s fourth quarter job placement results.
As a note, the Labour and Training Department will establish a hotline which can be called by persons needing work. There will be an established turnaround time for response to these calls. On a weekly basis, the Labour and Training Director will be providing me with a report on the status of persons’ application.
Elsewhere in the Ministry, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation is helping to address unemployment by working with small and medium-sized businesses.
We believe that one of the keys to economic recovery lies with small business owners and entrepreneurs with the imagination and drive to innovate and start small businesses. One of the BEDC’s key initiatives is to provide help to companies looking to establish themselves with secure start-up funding.
As at 30th November, 2011 small businesses guaranteed by the BEDC totaled 66 at a value of $4.29 million. The Corporation’s contingent liability was $3.5 million and supporting loans totaled $10.9 million.
The BEDC also provides a catalyst to establish a greater array of services in Bermuda that, in turn, are attractive to both international businesses establishing themselves here and tourists visiting the Island.
Stimulating entrepreneurship drives job creation and empowers Bermudians to become part of the engine for economic sustainability.
Additionally, the Government is actively generating opportunities for Bermudians to expand their skills through developing unique small jobs programmes in conjunction with companies that have successfully completed programmes via the Corporation, like the Construction Incubator Programme.
Such initiatives include:
The Small Jobs Initiative which resulted from a partnership between Ministry of ETI, the BEDC, Ministry of Government Estates and Information Services, and Ministry of Youth, Families and Sport. It resulted in the delivery of an employment scheme which generated short-term employment for unemployed Bermudians registered with the Department of Labour and Training.
This programme provided a weekly salary of $600 per week for up to 20 persons for a twelve week period. The programme concluded in December 2011. At least one of the participants from this programme went on to full-time employment at the KEMH job site.
Also, the BEDC is currently in the process of working with the Ministry of Government Estates and Information Services to launch a pilot programme that will see small businesses drawing on the pool of unemployed persons registered the Department of Labour and Training to secure government cleaning contracts. The Dame Lois Brown-Evans building is expected to represent the pilot programme under this initiative in the coming weeks.
Further, the TRI 30 work experience initiative that was introduced in September 2011 and successfully concluded with a commencement ceremony held on December 5 is another fine example of a government programme that has resulted in a short-term economic boost to its participants.
This programme provided jobs and much needed work experience for 30 young people and put $250,000 into the pockets of the 30 participants in the form of salaries.
The longer-term priority is to achieve economic growth and prepare the Bermudian labour pool to succeed in filling the needs of the job market, which increasingly requires individuals who can fill knowledge based employment.
Overall, the Government is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure that we promote long-term sustainable growth in Bermuda in a variety of ways.
Ensuring growth in the tourism sector;
Ensuring that International businesses thrive; and
Diversifying into new areas such as opportunities in ‘green’ industries.
Finally, I want to emphasise that this Government will continue to work with employers more closely because it is in everyone’s best interest to employ more Bermudians. As I’ve said previously, our collective role in employing Bermudians is critical to the sustainability of the country.
We will continue to take the necessary steps to educate and help people adapt to the new realities of the Bermuda economy and the employment opportunities that are available.
Our role is to assist job-seeking individuals to make the transition to the new economic circumstances.
It should be pointed out that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry continues to develop and reform policies, programme and initiatives and in the coming weeks and months more of initiatives will be rolled out.
Programmes such as JobCorps are actively being developed; Certification and training progammes via the National Training Board are ongoing.
Strategic plans for the Once Stop Career Center have been completed and implementation plans are nearing completion. I have today provided but a snap shot of the many programmes and initiatives that are designed to put real people into real jobs.
I want to close by saying that I clearly have empathy for those families and employers who are struggling through these hard times. We are all in this together, and Government is moving to make it better by enacting policies. We are listening, we are being proactive and we are reacting quickly to the changing situations in the work place.
The Premier’s full statement follows below:
Yesterday, I announced that I was publishing the Incentives for Job Makers. Today is the announcement of another prong of the Government’s strategy to create jobs for Bermudians.
All able-bodied Bermudians should be able to obtain a job before work permits are granted, particularly in the jobs that do not require specialised qualifications. While we may not able to get the jobs that we desire, we should be able to get a job to pay the bills until the jobs that we desire become available.
This is also an opportunity to try new opportunities in fields where there is still an abundance of job opportunities, such in the medical and caregiver fields; landscaping; cleaning; and certainly in the Hospital industries.
While it is not the Government’s intention to impede businesses, we must also recognise that we are in this together and we all must do our part. We cannot continue to issue work permits without ensuring that companies are doing all they can to hire Bermudians. The old refrain that Bermudians do not want to work or make their time cannot be applied to persons that up to now have been productive working citizens who have been made redundant through no fault of their own.
Let me make it clear that we are not tarring all employers with the same brush. Many employers are doing all they can to keep Bermudians employed, particularly in these trying economic times.
The articles in the Royal Gazette last week regarding Fulcrum and MEF Limited highlight the actions that these employers are doing to employ Bermudians. They must be commended for their efforts. Employers that demonstrate that they are putting Bermudians first will get a very smooth ride from the Bermuda Government. We are hoping that we will see even more of this from employers.
While the focus is on the private sector, Government has also implemented changes to its processes to provide opportunities to Bermudian contractors, particularly those that have graduated from the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
The Project Management and Procurement Office have amended the criteria for evaluating bids to give a higher weight to those companies that have mostly Bermudian workers. In addition they have eliminated the criteria that had traditionally excluded the smaller companies.
In addition, the Government is also not sitting on its laurels waiting for things to improve. We must also provide an enabling environment for Bermudians to obtain jobs. Minister Minors will speak to some of the initiatives that she is implementing.