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Government confident there will be jobs for scholarship students

The Government is confident that students awarded its scholarships will find jobs on the island

A “high probability” exists that businesses on the island will require the skills of workforce development scholarship recipients, a government spokesman said.

He highlighted that data from the Department of Immigration showed the extent of shortages of Bermudians in certain job sectors.

The comments came in response to questions about plans to change the Department of Workforce Development agreement with scholarship students.

In the House of Assembly last month, Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, tabled a position paper on retaining the local workforce, which said: “Currently DWD scholarships do not require recipients to return to Bermuda at any time.

“The scholarship contract will be amended to require that, upon the completion of the recipient's studies, they must return to Bermuda and actively contribute to the local community by engaging in professional work within seven years of completing studies for their first degree.”

The Royal Gazette asked the Government how it can guarantee that jobs will be available for graduates on their return to the island.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Economy and Labour replied: “Through data provided by the Department of Immigration, the Government is aware of the extent to which there are shortages of Bermudians in occupational categories within our economy.

“DWD scholarships are given to individuals in high-demand occupational categories to address these shortages, so there is a high probability that local businesses will require those competencies and skills developed within our economy.

“Furthermore, when suitably qualified Bermudians apply for posts, employers are expected to hire them before other similarly qualified applicants.”

Asked what guarantees were in place to ensure that vacancies will be comparable to those offered overseas, the ministry spokesman said recipients “accept the requirements to return to Bermuda and work”.

The Government was also asked about possible consequences if a scholarship recipient does not return to work on the island within seven years of completing their studies

Questions were asked about whether the graduate would have to repay the scholarship if the stipulation was not fulfilled, and what would happen they did not secure a job in their chosen field on return to Bermuda.

The ministry’s spokesman said: “The policy aims to prevent labour shortages in the economy by encouraging people to return home and contribute.

“It is expected that scholarship recipients will desire to return home and take advantage of opportunities in Bermuda.

“However, the Government recognises the value of international work experience and other opportunities and believes that after graduation, seven years is a reasonable period for individuals to have gained that experience before returning home to give back to their community.”

Mr Hayward said in February that the Government recognised there was a need to support Bermuda’s young people as they embark on their career journey.

He told the House that the Youth Employment Strategy was developed in 2021 to address unemployment by facilitating greater opportunities and educational pathways for all young Bermudians aged between 18 and 26.

Mr Hayward said: “The introduction of the Youth Employment Strategy exemplifies this Government’s commitment to empowering its younger population.

He added: “This forward-thinking initiative aims to address the unique challenges faced by youth in the workforce and provides solutions to enhance their employability and foster career development.”

In Goal 9 of the strategy, the Government encouraged Bermudians to return home to work, live and participate in the local economy.

It noted that over the past few decades, Bermuda has seen a number of its citizens emigrate to reside in other parts of the world in search of job opportunities and a lower cost of living.

“While a portion of this exodus is normal across the world, there are ways to minimise this to prevent the ‘brain drain’ which means educated locals leaving the island to live and work elsewhere,” the strategy said.

The Consultation on Retaining the Local Workforce Position Paper 2024 also proposed greater protections for Bermudian workers and widened access to permanent residency certificates without new pathways to Bermudian status.

Mr Hayward invited feedback to the document, which was published online at forum.gov.bm with a response deadline of April 15.

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Published April 09, 2024 at 7:55 am (Updated April 09, 2024 at 8:07 am)

Government confident there will be jobs for scholarship students

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