Hayward examining minimum wage for entry-level jobs
Bermuda “cannot afford to have our young persons continue to leave the island and not coming back home”, the labour minister said last night in a review of the island’s national youth unemployment strategy.
Repatriation fell under the nine goals of the strategy, which was announced earlier this month to a backdrop of 30 per cent unemployment among 18 to 26-year-olds.
The strategy, available from the ministry online, highlights 31.1 per cent unemployment among those aged 16 to 24 according to the November 2020 Labour Force Survey.
It cites a lack of opportunity as well as the level of experience demanded for jobs on the island, and a “misalignment of qualifications and skill sets required in the current job market”.
Mr Hayward described the emigration of young people who “feel living conditions are not sustainable for them” as a talent and brain drain on the island.
He also highlighted the need to bring home young people who had finished tertiary education overseas.
“People are not going to job categories where the wage is certainly not attractive for anybody – Bermuda in general, but especially for our young persons.
“We want to ensure that we improve that, but that particular goal is fluid.”
Mr Hayward said there was scope for a review of legislation affecting young people as well as “some type of social protection for them” ahead of them “making the decision that Bermuda is not for them and going overseas”.
Mr Hayward emphasised that there were no immediate answers to the loss of youth to other jurisdictions – but that the Government’s message was “we value them”.
Responding to a question from the audience on retaining young people in view of the cost of living, Mr Hayward said: “Over the next few weeks, you will hear the Government’s strategy as we try to tackle the cost of living as much as possible.”
He said a possible “statutory minimum wage for entry-level jobs” was being examined.
Mr Hayward said the ministry also planned to announce an expansion of the Government’s summer employment programme next week, through additional funding.
On the local front, Mr Hayward said the ministry continued to see training that was not aligned with future demand.
Under the goal of “workplace readiness”, he said young people needed to be “clear on the journey they embark on” when they headed into employment.
“We need to create that bridge where people understand that entry level jobs put them on a pathway to future employment in other areas.”
He was addressing a town hall meeting on the youth unemployment strategy last night at St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church Centennial Hall on Court Street.
Turnout was sparse, with about 20 attendees, but the forum heard from Joseph Mahoney of the Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative, and Aruna Dismont from Transitional Community Services.
Mr Hayward said the Government was open to partnering with organisations in the community that “aim to do the same things, which is supporting our young persons”.