Column: Cunningham On Labour & Immigration

November 19, 2021 | 7 Comments

Victoria Cunningham Bermuda November 2021[Opinion column written by the OBA's Victoria Cunningham]

The recent Throne Speech laid out a number of Government initiatives and ideas to move Bermuda beyond the pandemic. While it needs to be said that we should be working together to protect our economy and get Bermudians back to work, the report gave little detail to how these would work in our current and future economic environment.

The decline in jobs will continue unless there is a clear and productive plan in place to train our Bermudian workforce but also continue to attract skilled non-Bermudians who are willing and able to carry out that training. The One Bermuda Alliance believes the government should “make life easier” for the industry groups that are keeping the economy afloat.

By specifying required skill sets for each work permit category, we should be able to set up a training path either through the Department of Workforce Development or the Bermuda College. However, work permit holders also provide key training opportunities to Bermudians and should not be considered second class citizens in the country where they are contributing their taxes and hard-earned dollars in all aspects of our economy.

As International Business has now become the largest employer on the island [over 13% of all jobs held according to the September 2020 Employment Survey], we need to be addressing ways to ensure they continue to invest in our people and our island.

The digitised immigration application process is definitely a good idea to streamline the arduous immigration process [albeit somewhat late], but we need to look at other ways to cut the red tape and incentivize these companies to continue spending in Bermuda and on Bermudians.

The economy shed 1,900 jobs in 2020 with massive job losses seen in the retail and tourism sectors. While the pandemic is obviously partly to blame, this is not a recent trend. We need to be looking at where these Bermudians can re-locate their skill sets.

Are we truly looking at the numbers from the most recent employment brief when educating our young people about careers or assisting our out-of-work brothers and sisters? Of the 111 occupation categories assigned in the 2020 Employment Survey, over a quarter have more than 50% of the jobs held by non-Bermudians.

That tells me that there are opportunities in these job categories if we can properly train and educate ourselves. These job categories include waiters, accountants, nurses, landscapers, beauticians and autobody workers.

While it could be argued that some of these require further education, with the hundreds of thousands of dollars of government and private scholarships available annually, this shouldn’t be seen as a hinderance to our youth.

The PLP Government recently highlighted the work done by the Department of Workforce Development [DWD]. This is a key Department that supports training programmes and the Government’s re-employment strategy. However, little over 10% of the 750 people who took part in the recent DWD training programmes were employed full time as a result.

I would ask, how many of those 80 people are still employed in those positions? The same goes for the 757 unemployed Bermudians who gained employment through the DWD Bermuda Job Board in the last 12 months – what industry groups were these in and are those employers willing to offer additional opportunities?

This Government is failing our youth while they are still in school by providing inadequate soft skills experience, they are failing our unemployed by not offering relevant training and development opportunities, and, they are failing Bermuda, by not bringing forward realistic and relevant ideas to stimulate our economy.

We need to ask ourselves, are we going to be paying for Bezos-Burt to enter the Space Race with the billions we don’t have, or can we bring the PLP back down to earth to provide Bermuda and Bermudians with an economy and the job prospects we deserve?

- Victoria Cunningham

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Comments (7)

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  1. Dane says:

    “We need to ask ourselves, are we going to be paying for Bezos-Burt to enter the Space Race with the billions we don’t have, or can we bring the PLP back down to earth to provide Bermuda and Bermudians with an economy and the job prospects we deserve?”

    Expected better from Victoria…

    • Sandgrownan says:

      She’s expressing the frustrated contempt many of us have for the emperor.

      Besides, she’s right, the PLP’s pie-in-the-sky thinking is getting us nowherr

  2. Rig says:

    Decent comments and all worth asking. We need more expats generating Bermudian jobs, but with Jason Hayward in the chair, this will never happen. All he has is soundbites, never action. He doesn’t really want progress, he wants the Trade Union movement of the 1970s.

  3. Nice statements says:

    Where is your action plan? Nice words but where are the concrete steps to the resolution top? Come back in a year’s time and tell us what you accomplished if not this is just an Op Advert blowing in the wind.

    • SandgrownAn says:

      We know, economically, the OBA is the only hope. We know that in the last 23 years, the only growth happened under the OBA.

      I think it’s on the incumbents to tell us how they are going to get us out of the mess they alone created.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Of course its a publicity opportunity. That does not mean the message has no value.

      The PLP Government regularly trots out former UBP Leader and former UBP Minister of Transport Wayne Furbert to tell us about our dismal economy. At least Ms Cunningham is making good points and not just parroting some statistic from a country of millions of people that has no relevance to Bermuda

  4. DOUBLE DIP says:

    THE PUBLIC TRUST

    “We the people”! When one man criticizes another! he had better have a better plan to offer.

    Have we not learned that sitting on the family couch complaining about each and every thing , a public pastime for sure gets us no where!

    “Actions always speak louder than words “.

    Ask your self what have you done for Bermuda.

    Bermuda needs more irons in the fire than we have already have and put more grease on the wheel than we have in the past.
    Want the truth ! we are one big family with no common goal on the table

    EG :
    Question ? Why do people go to Vagus?
    Answer ! To have a good time

    Here they walk around Dockyard looking at the clock. Brilliant !

    We subsidize many with money with out results or accountability.

    Sunshine beats covid and we have got plenty of that.
    We are Shipping Containers Empire they are every where.
    There is only so much you can sweep under the carpet.
    Road safety is non existent .
    We insult or visitors with and electric baby carriage
    We have lost most of our scenery to concrete construction .
    Our Visitors expect more they want value for their money which does not grow on their trees!
    If we throw bead on the water it may come back as butter scones.
    If we put that 3 billion into tourism we might have 6 billion to show for it.
    Want catch a fish ? you have got to put bait on the hook.
    What have you got to give.

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