Landscaping has become one of the pressure points in Bermuda's recession.
There are several reasons why. It is a sector of the economy which has been heavily dependent on foreign labour and thus is one of the “buffers” in the economy where Bermudians can seek work when tough times come. It is also regarded as being fairly unskilled. “How hard is it to push a lawnmower?” is the common refrain.
There is some truth in this. Landscaping is hard labour and some of the tasks required are not difficult. Others require a good deal of knowledge and skill. But it does not seem unreasonable that a fit and active Bermudian would have little difficulty mastering the skills required. Not so, says employers, who can give chapter on verse on how many Bermudians have let them down and the many different ways this has occurred.
As a result, employers and the Government are at loggerheads over work permits and hiring practices. Now employers, who claim not to have found one qualified applicant at a recent jobs fair, say they will each hire one Bermudian trainee. It is important that this programme is done well and is successful. Landscaping can and should be a skilled profession. It takes care and dedication to grow and maintain a garden and should not be taken lightly.
But it also requires a commitment from those who are hired to take advantage of the opportunity. If they don't, they're not just letting themselves down, they are letting all Bermudians down.