Jobs, jobs, jobs: find out how we’re seeing Bermudians through these tough times
The coronavirus pandemic has created a lot of stress for people. The stress of schools being opened and closed; dealing with e-learning; taking care of elderly parents, and relatives masked and worried about their health. And, of course, the stress of lost jobs and lost opportunity.
This week, we took a look at the jobs situation in the Bermuda. At present, there are 32,427 total filled jobs — the lowest levels recorded since 1985. The pandemic-induced economic downturn has certainly impacted Bermudian employment.
The question that we must all be asking is, when this crisis hit, what did we do to see Bermudians through?
First, we provided the necessary social protections through the introduction of unemployment benefits and supplementary unemployment benefits, while expanding the financial assistance programme.
The financial assistance programme helps people with the basics — housing, food and healthcare. If you did not meet the qualifications for financial assistance, the supplementary unemployment benefit programme provided persons with health insurance and $1,520 a month. The unemployment benefits distributed since the onset of the pandemic has totalled more than $70 million.
We are a caring government that has a heart for the people. So when the crisis hit, we were there to provide assistance.
But, now, we are focused on getting Bermudians back to work.
Over the past year, we directed the Department of Workforce Development to do everything it can to help Bermudians get back to work.
And we have a good story to tell about our progress. More than 750 Bermudians have worked with the department and taken advantage of face-to-face, online, on-the-job and virtual learning apprenticeships and trainee programmes.
And, of those who have taken advantage of these training opportunities, 80 have been placed in full or part-time employment opportunities.
We also have worked to connect more than 757 Bermudians to jobs through the Bermuda job board referral process since last September.
Additionally, despite these challenging times, through the Department of Workforce Development, the Government has remained committed to investing in our youth and supporting their education and development by:
• Implementing the Graduate Training Programme that includes paid internships and career-readiness training
• Retaining the Scholarship Programme, enabling students to continue their graduate studies
• Keeping the Summer Jobs Programme, enabling college and university students to earn money while on summer break
• Expanding the Apprentice Programme, creating paid work experience opportunities across numerous occupational categories
We have more work to do when it comes to recovering our job market. But, we’re focused on doing what it takes to provide Bermudians with support and opportunities during these difficult times.
• Michael Weeks is a government backbencher and the MP for Pembroke East Central (Constituency 16)