Work Permits Increase, 22 New EEZ Businesses

March 10, 2015

The total number of standard work permits processed in 2014 increased by 496 from the previous year, and 22 new businesses opened in the three Economic Empowerment Zones [EEZs] during 2014 bringing with them 60 new jobs, Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said.

The Ministry provided an overview of some of the highlights for 2014 which they said included “faster processing times for planning applications and permits, 22 new businesses opening within the three EEZs and the provision of 92 local scholarships from the Department of Workforce Development.”

The total number of standard work permits processed in 2014 was 11,321 [up from 10,825 in 2013] and Minister Fahy said, “2014 saw the first uplift in work permits since 2008, which, in my opinion, is a positive indicator that Bermuda is getting back on the map for business.”

“We should never undervalue the importance of having an increasing number of people on the island. More people equates to more money circulating on the island with more use of services which, in turn, equates to a boost on our economy.”

Speaking on the new EEZ businesses, the Minister said, “There was significant growth within BEDC’s Economic Empowerment Zones between January and November 2014 with 22 new businesses opening in the three Economic Empowerment Zones [EEZs] bringing with them 60 new jobs.”

As far as planning, the Ministry said, “In 2014 The Department of Planning received 563 planning applications. This is up from 458 in 2013. The average time taken to ‘determine’ the applications [where a decision was made – either approval or refusal] went from 12.1 weeks in 2013 to 9.2 weeks in 2014.

“The percentage of applications determined within 8 weeks went from 27 per cent in 2013 to 49 per cent in 2014. The percentage determined within 12 weeks went from 47 per cent to 69 per cent.”

Minister Fahy noted: “As planning application numbers are often good economic indicators, the clear increase for 2014 is undoubtedly a positive sign and indicative of a possible turnaround in the economy or, at least, heightened confidence in Bermuda’s future. ”

The full statement from the Home Affairs Ministry is below:

The Minister of Home Affairs Sen. Michael Fahy shared with the public some of the most recent statistics and updates coming out of the Ministry, broken down by Department.

Some of the highlights for 2014 were: faster processing times for planning applications and permits, 22 new businesses opening within the three EEZs and the provision of 92 local scholarships from the Department of Workforce Development.

“The statistics for 2014 are a positive indicator that things are moving in a good direction,” said Minister Fahy. “Many of these findings can be translated into greater efficiencies within the Ministry last year and, in some cases, more job opportunities.”

Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC]

There was significant growth within BEDC’s Economic Empowerment Zones between January and November 2014 with 22 new businesses opening in the three Economic Empowerment Zones [EEZs] bringing with them 60 new jobs.

In 2014 both BEDC’s Loan Guarantee and Micro-Loan portfolios saw positive movement with five new Loan Guarantees and 11 new Micro Loans approved. Up until November 2014 these new guarantee certificates facilitated $221,900 in new commercial bank financing being extended, assisting three existing businesses and nine new businesses and bringing 35 new jobs to the marketplace.

For the first 11 months of 2014 BEDC officers met with 805 persons seeking business planning and management advice. This is an increase of 19.61 per cent over the same period in the previous year in which 673 advisory meetings were held. Many of these advisory clients were considered “necessity entrepreneurs”.

Between January and November of 2014, BEDC held or participated in 88 seminars, workshops, and events focused on entrepreneurship. This outreach resulted in some 2,529 persons, including young people, being exposed to entrepreneurship best-practice. BEDC’s role as host organisation for the Global Entrepreneurship Week initiative continued and in 2014 saw the initiative grow significantly with over 30 events and hundreds of entrepreneurs participating weekly over the month.

Upcoming Projects for BEDC in 2015 include the creation of: Business Industry Guides; a Loan Guarantee for Deferred Duty Import on Retail Goods; Vendor Legislation; an Entrepreneur’s Guide to Government Concessions; and a Vacation Rental Accommodations Entrepreneurship Policy.

Also during 2015 BEDC will aim to develop a range of options to access alternative financing for businesses [i.e. private sector lending, angel investing, venture capital - not just traditional bank financing] and the introduction in the spring of the internationally renowned Ice House Entrepreneurship Programme.

Department of Planning

In 2014 The Department of Planning received 563 planning applications. This is up from 458 in 2013. The average time taken to ‘determine’ the applications [where a decision was made – either approval or refusal] went from 12.1 weeks in 2013 to 9.2 weeks in 2014.

The percentage of applications determined within 8 weeks went from 27 per cent in 2013 to 49 per cent in 2014. The percentage determined within 12 weeks went from 47 per cent to 69 per cent.

Minister Fahy noted: “As planning application numbers are often good economic indicators, the clear increase for 2014 is undoubtedly a positive sign and indicative of a possible turnaround in the economy or, at least, heightened confidence in Bermuda’s future. I wish to congratulate the Department of Planning for their improved processing times for applications, further demonstrating their commitment to customer service.”

The number of building permits also increased from 701 in 2013 to 877 in 2014. Building permits are an indication of the projects that are actually being built.

The average time taken for minor works went from 2.8 weeks in 2013 to 1.2 weeks in 2014 – and was 5 weeks in 2011. The percentage of minor works determined within six days has gone from 12 per cent in 2011 to 19 per cent in 2013 to 76 per cent in 2014.

The average response time for inspections went from 0.8 days in 2013 to 0.7 in 2014.

“The data indicates a continuing improving trend in the processing of building permit applications as average processing time has improved annually over recent years,” said the Minister. “The ‘Fast track’ system for straightforward applications continued ensuring that those minor applications, which are fully compliant, are resolved speedily. In addition, any applications which are of particular importance for the well-being of the island, such as tourism or infrastructure projects, are given priority attention.”

Additionally, the new building code for Bermuda came into effect on January 12th 2015.

“The new codes will affect all new building permit applications for residential and commercial developments,” explained the Minister. “Everyone from the architectural and design community to the general public will now have to ensure their applications conform to the new codes. The previous codes were out of date and did not reflect advancements in the building and materials industry, particularly with respect to accessibility and energy efficiency.”

Looking ahead in 2015, the New City of Hamilton Plan will be tabled in the House.

Department of Workforce Development

Last year the Department successfully worked with Bermuda CableVision at no cost to the Government, to have Channel 87 dedicated to posting jobs listed on the Job Board. To date, the Job Board has 3,349 candidates registered, 502 employers listed, and currently 135 job vacancies posted.

“The Job Board continues to see considerable activity with 10,034 applications submitted via this medium to date,” said the Minister. “Weekly Job Board Training sessions are held in order to assist the general public and clients of the Department to build a profile and upload pertinent documents such as a resume and written references.

“I would like to encourage all unemployed persons to register both at the Department of Workforce Development and on Job Board itself.”

Along with the creation of the Job Board, last year also saw the completion of Part I of the National Training Plan, which was overseen by the Department of Workforce Development and the National Training Board.

Minister Fahy said: “The National Training Plan is a tool to help mobilize Bermuda to a place of reducing our reliance on overseas labour because we will have carefully considered the future needs of the economy and developed our people accordingly. Part 1 of the Plan is an analysis of various economic sectors with the goal of understanding the current job market and determining how best to move Bermuda from its largely uncoordinated workforce training regime to the adoption of short, medium and long-term plans. Meanwhile, Part II of the Plan will focus on the development and implementation of training and entry-level positions across industry sectors as well as identifying the resources required to do so.”

From April 1 to December 31 2014 the Department’s Labour Relations Section dealt with 661 labour dispute cases with cases ranging from grievances over redundancy to wages to vacation pay.

Also during that time period, the National Training Section provided 49 overseas scholarships and 92 local scholarships. They also facilitated a number of National Certifications in designated trades such welders [23], electricians [15], industrial electricians [14] and automotive service technicians [14].

The Department also offers a Maritime Program and last year five students completed the Bridge and Engine Room Watch Certificate Program at Holland College, PEI, Canada [September 2014] then went on to successfully complete their Security Awareness Certification as a mandatory requirement to allow them to apply for seafarers occupations globally. Five students departed Bermuda in January 2015 to attend Holland College in an attempt to become seafarers. This is one of the most successful programs offered by the Department.

The Department also runs a Customer Service Program. This is a mandatory requirement for National Certification. In the spring of 2014, 11 individuals participated in this program which is facilitated by the Bermuda Employers Council.

In terms of Legislation, the Regulations for the job category of ‘Landscape Gardener’ were passed last year to introduce this occupation as a Designated Trade for National Certification and the Department is currently working towards introducing Regulations for Power Engineers.

The Career Development Section successfully hosted a Job Fair in March with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line with a number of young Bermudian’s given an opportunity to work with the cruise line in a variety of areas. Che Augustus will board within a month as a Bar Utility Worker on the Enchantment of the Seas and Sherlina Thomas boarded the Legend of the Seas in October out of Quebec.

This section also organized numerous career development outreach initiatives. They recently hosted a joint initiative with the Bermuda Industrial Union to promote registration with the Department of Workforce Development and assist the general public with registering on the Bermuda Job Board. Approximately 85 individuals attended, receiving services in resume development, creating an email account, and completing a candidate profile on the Job Board.

The Career Development, Training, and Labour sections all provided expertise and support for a Job Readiness event held at the Somerset Cricket Club in 2014. Approximately 70 individuals participated in the workshops which focused on interviewing skills, resume writing, training, employability skills, and a synopsis of the Employment Act. Breakout sessions also occurred for attendees to receive individual guidance from career professionals.

In 2014, the Career Development Officer presented a series of workshops for the CedarBridge Academy, College and Career Course, for those students pursuing the City & Guilds Employability Skills Award. 90 students participated in the sessions which were interactive and focused on Behavior in the Workplace and Business Etiquette.

“Students were actively engaged and were required to prepare a report on the workshop as evidence for their City & Guilds Portfolio,” said the Minister.

In 2014 The Career Development Section offered monthly training for Keyboarding, Introduction to Microsoft Word and Introduction to Microsoft Excel for clients at no cost.

“All sessions are a gentle introduction to technology and software to help clients gain confidence and encourage them to pursue formalized training,” said the Minister. ”Additionally, Career Development Officers rotate and facilitate monthly presentations at the Department of Financial Assistance. The presentation emphasis is on driving their personal career plan.”

The Summer Employment Programme met with yet another successfully year, with 150 college/university interns receiving the opportunity for work placement in their area of study. Each intern received the maximum, 10 week placement, with a $5000 compensation stipend. Students received placement in Government, Private, and non-profit sectors.

Rent Commission

2014 saw the closure of the Rent Commission. Its functions now fall within Consumer Affairs.

Consumer Affairs

In 2014 Consumer Affairs dealt with 487 new cases and 262 recalls were investigated.

Website traffic to the Department of Consumer Affairs has increased by 22 per cent when compared to 2013.

Registry General Department

In February 2014 the Registry General introduced nine new statutory instruments in relation to copyright administration matters. One of these was the Copyright [Educational Establishments] Order 2014 which gives the Minister power to exempt educational institutions, such as Bermuda’s schools, to allow for the use of copyright materials to be used for educational purposes.

February 2014 also saw the appointment, for the first time, of a Copyright Tribunal to adjudicate in commercial licensing disputes between collecting societies and users of copyright material in their businesses.

In March 2014 the Registry General introduced the new Charities Act 2014 which designates the Registrar General as the competent officer for supervising charities, and gives the Registrar the power to conduct investigations, seize documents, to disclose information in his possession to other public authorities and to charge an annual registration fees.

“The new Act brings Bermuda into compliance with international standards on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism,” said the Minister.

In December 2014 the Registry General introduced new Charities Regulations which prescribe the charity application form for registration, the particulars to be entered on the Charity Register, the information required in a charity’s annual statement of accounts and annual report, the anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing measures that must be implemented, the particulars required when applying for a temporary licence to solicit and collect donations from members of the public, and fees payable by charities to the Registrar.

The Registry General continues their work in relation to providing an accurate account of the percentage of land held by non-Bermudians on the Alien Deeds Register.

The Registry General also created a new revenue stream last year with regards to the collection of registration fees from Charities. It is a three-tiered structure with Charities receiving up to $35,000 a year in donations paying a $100 registration fee, charities receiving donations of $35,000-$450,000 paying $250 and charities receiving donations over $450,000 paying $400. There will also be a charge to search the Registrar of $22 per hour.

Municipalities

In March 2014 the Ministry provided the Corporation of St. Georges with a much-needed cash injection to ensure salaries could be paid as well as to assist with the purchase on vehicles and infrastructure upgrades.

Department of Immigration

The total number of standard work permits processed in 2013 was 10,825, while it was 11,321 in 2014.

“2014 saw the first uplift in work permits since 2008, which, in my opinion, is a positive indicator that Bermuda is getting back on the map for business,” said Minister Fahy. “We should never undervalue the importance of having an increasing number of people on the island. More people equates to more money circulating on the island with more use of services which, in turn, equates to a boost on our economy.”

In 2014 the Ministry completed the 2014 Work Permit Policy in consultation with major stakeholders – a policy which comes into effect on March 1st 2015.

The Minister said, “For me, it was about finding the right balance between assisting International Business in getting the best employees they can in a competitive marketplace, while also ensuring that qualified Bermudians are given the opportunities we deserve – a balance which I believe has now been found due to the extensive consultative process.”

Significant policy changes include the introduction of the new Global Entrepreneur Work Permit, which has been created to enable individuals who are planning new start-up companies in Bermuda to apply for work permits. This will enable that person to live in Bermuda while conducting their business planning.

Other changes include the introduction of the new Business Work Permit. These will allow brand new companies to Bermuda to obtain work permits without advertising during the first six months of their existence. If ten or more permits are required, then information will be asked of the new company regarding their growth strategy and how they intend to employ Bermudians. This information will be taken into account when further permits are applied for. The new Business Work Permit is available for new exempted companies and on a limited basis.

Other policy changes include the requirement for employers to advertise all jobs on the Government Job Board for at least eight consecutive days, and ensure that where an established graduate training programme or an established exchange internship programme exists that Bermudians, spouses of Bermudians, and PRC holders are given equal opportunities to participate in related programmes.

The Minister said: “Overall, I am extremely proud of the work undertaken by all of the Departments under the Ministry of Home Affairs. The men and women in these Departments do themselves proud and serve Bermuda in ways that often go unappreciated and unnoticed, and I wish to thank them for their service to our island.”

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Comments (22)

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  1. agatha christie says:

    Can the Minister please tell us what jobs the standard work permits were for or at least in what sectors: that is key.

  2. Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

    To the 60 people that now have work, congrats!

  3. Jus' Wonderin' says:

    “22 new businesses opened in the three Economic Empowerment Zones [EEZs] during 2014 bringing with them 60 new jobs, Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said.”

    WHOOPS…guess the OBA really isn’t doing anything or helping the little man. lol PLP paid bloggers….your response awaits!

    • Independent Observer says:

      What would also be of use is to talk about how many businesses have closed over the same period of time. That’s what is most important.

    • rhonda says:

      Wasn’t one of those businesses the Opposition Leader’s, well done plp and oba working together for Bermuda.

  4. campervan says:

    Great news. seems like we have bottomed out and small green shoots are now appearing.
    Lets nurture those green shoots with care people.
    They will take a while to grow and produce fruit, so lets not be expecting a bumper crop too soon.

  5. Cow Polly says:

    Please note Bermuda – the OBA haven’t made a big deal about this success, they’re not running around patting themselves on the back, immediately holding press conferences to remind the voters that they are indeed looking out for Bermudians. No sir. They are just getting on with it.
    I get frustrated with them sometimes when they don’t respond to the hysterics of the Opposition but when I see successes like this also being quietly implemented I am reminded that this party is focused on doing the people’s business and not looking to score votes for an election in the future.

  6. Redman says:

    The whole island should be considered an EEZ

    • agatha christie says:

      Yes, I totally agree Redman. Setting up a new business is not always easy.

  7. Onion says:

    That’s a step forward but still way too long for approvals.

  8. clearasmud says:

    Can the Minister please tell us how many of those permits were for new jobs versus renewals and how many permits were surrendered during that same period?

  9. um just saying says:

    If there are Bermudians qualified for these jobs, give it to them, and stop bringing in the foreigners. Also, if you can give the Bermudians the same perks, housing allowances, transportation, etc without having to live six deep in a studio apt., you will find more Bermudians applying for certain jobs.

    • serengeti says:

      Your message is confused. Are you asserting that all expats have housing allowances, or are you asserting that all expats “live six deep in a studio apt”?

      The two are mutually exclusive, and it’s not clear which racist stereotype you are putting forward.

    • Ed Case says:

      Perhaps if more Bermudians were willing to be competitive instead of being entitled prissies, then they’d get hired.

  10. rhonda says:

    Let me see if I totally understand, work permit went up, as well as Bermudian unemployment. Magnificent, just marvelous.

    • jt says:

      Ya. You don’t.

    • rhonda says:

      Don’t we love the OBA.

      • Creamy says:

        Do you really think then rhonda that if the number of work permits went down, the number of Bermudians employed would go up?
        Didn’t the PLP already try that experiment?

  11. shutthemdown says:

    lol,

    they haven’t done s..t.

  12. Alvin Williams says:

    The big lie and the big secret; that Bermuda for a long time has in fact being developing two economies; Full employment for foreign workers and growing unemployment for Bermudians and some where along the line these two contradictions will clash.

  13. bluebird says:

    Bermuda’s labour force is too EXPENSIVE and POORLY EDUCATED for todays marketplace.
    How can you just give jobs to poorly educated and expensive staff.
    They need to educate themselves as the Government Schools just don’t do it and get some experience in the field they desire.
    NOBODY is going to come and knock on your door and ask you if you want a job.
    Government has made it too comfortable for those who are unemployed.You are getting a subsitiy and working on the side. Why would you want to change?