Beating the drum on trades! Can you hear me?

  • Boosting skills: the Bermuda College is a great place to learn technical trades such as auto repair, HVAC (air conditioning) and plumbing (Photograph supplied)

    Boosting skills: the Bermuda College is a great place to learn technical trades such as auto repair, HVAC (air conditioning) and plumbing (Photograph supplied)

  • Tools of the trades: the Applied Science Division at the Bermuda College offers hands-on training toward skilled careers (File photograph)

    Tools of the trades: the Applied Science Division at the Bermuda College offers hands-on training toward skilled careers (File photograph)

If you ask any politician what is the most common question that they are asked, it will be without a doubt something along the lines of: “I am looking for a job. Can you help me out?”

Unfortunately, we all know someone who is either underemployed or unemployed.

The reply to the above question usually would be something such as “So what type of work can you do?” or “So what skill sets do you have?”

If we are frank with ourselves, more often than not, this is where the rubber meets the road: persons who find themselves in the unfortunate circumstance of not having the qualifications or skill sets that allow them to seek, not just a hustle or temporary job, but a lifelong career.

If we look at some of the technical professions that will always provide employment, we notice a trend that needs to be addressed with both short and long-term strategies.

With more than 50,000 vehicles, including trucks, motorcycles, private cars and service vans on the road, there is a constant need for these vehicles to be maintained and repaired on a daily basis.

The only persons who can do these jobs in a safe and professional manner are automotive technicians.

Looking at some of the latest statistics from the 2017 Employment Survey Report, we have 158 automotive technicians, of whom approximately 71 are non-Bermudian and 87 are Bermudian.

This is one industry towards which those who find themselves looking for a career should direct their time and energy.

Another profession that will always have a demand for consummate professionals would be the age-old profession of masonry.

At present, we have 366 people registered as masons, of which only 114 are Bermudian while more than 250 are non-Bermudian.

In the area of bakers, we have only 15 locals and 50 guest workers.

The list goes on and on, with these statistics showing the numbers of Bermudians in the technical trades to be lower than the number of non-Bermudians.

It is fairly obvious that while we have persons underemployed or unemployed, many of them should be looking to better themselves by getting trained in these much needed professions.

The question then becomes: “So, where can they get these required skills?”

One would need only look at the Department of Workforce Development and/or the Bermuda College. Both are charged with assisting Bermudians in the technical trades.

The Progressive Labour Party government released a National Workforce Development Plan in July 2018, which has outlined a clear strategy to develop “career pathways which map out the skill acquisitions necessary for job seekers and students to obtain a job and progress within the job market”.

Without a doubt, it will be a sacrifice to learn trades such as automotive mechanics, carpentry, plumbing or baking. It will require not only hands-on, physical work, but a host of academic disciplines such as mathematics, geometry and physics.

On the bright side, the reality is that these professions will never be obsolete or automated by technology.

A qualified professional can set their hourly rates at ranges from $30 to $50 per hour.

If one considers the reality that we will always need tradesmen, it is a challenge to understand why more Bermudians are not moving in that direction.

Yes, we understand that the national narrative for the past 30 years has been to push students towards working in international business.

However, the sad reality is that international business, owing to any number of global reasons, is not growing or hiring large amounts of entry-level workers.

So the reality is we must channel our workforce towards fields that will constantly require workers.

At the very least, you can save yourself money by doing your own repairs. Additionally, you can have a career and start your own successful businesses.

It is not my job, or any politician’s job, to sugar-coat these realities for the masses. Whether it be those who are in the final years of high school or those looking for a steady career, my strong advice would be to take a hard look at learning a trade.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at To view the 2017 Digest of Statistics and the 2017 Employment Survey, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

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Published Jan 18, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 18, 2019 at 7:30 am)

Beating the drum on trades! Can you hear me?

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