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Average age of jobless is 38 survey

The average age of unemployed people is 38, according to Government’s recent Unemployed Registration Drive.

Just over 1,000 people registered at the initiative designed to find out the needs of those who have fallen victim to the economic crisis, Economy Minister Kim Wilson told the Senate yesterday.

Seventeen percent of unemployed people attended university for three or more years, 21 percent had a two-year college course under their belts and 46 percent got no education beyond secondary school, according to Sen Wilson’s statistics.

After revealing the figures yesterday, Government announced a number of plans for training programmes, including one to create up to 30 jobs for unemployed construction workers.

Junior Finance Minister David Burt said Government has joined forces with Bermuda Small Business Development Corporation for a jobs programme.

Between 20 and 30 unskilled labourers will be selected from a registered pool from Labour and Training to carry out a body of minor works provided by the Ministry of Government Estates and Information, said Senator Burt.

Employees will be paid $500 to $600 per week, with corresponding deductions made from those on Financial Assistance.

Tender documents for the proposal will be released to the BSBDC’s construction incubator graduates soon, said the Senator.

Another project will see five full-time courses set up to improve the work skills and employability of 72 Bermudians, according to Sen Burt.

Those who complete the programme, run by the Professional and Career Education Department at Bermuda College, will be given job placement help by Labour and Training.

Sen Burt told the Senate: “This programme is targeted to the young and not so young; those with numerous years of experience and those without.

“Any Bermudian who is unemployed and is looking to add skills to enhance their employability is welcome. In addition to the specific courses, all participants will receive soft skills training in customer service workplace etiquette and workplace ethics.”

Another initiative will be a youth apprenticeship scheme designed to give people aged 17 to 25 training and development in building and restoring historic properties.

Sen Burt said young people will be taught by skilled tradesmen in restoring woodwork, painting, masonry, plumbing, electrical and horticultural trades.

The Springfield National Trust property will be revitalised as part of this scheme, said Sen Burt.

“The youth apprenticeship scheme will work in conjunction with stakeholders to bring Springfield to an acceptable condition that can then be developed to contribute to the Sandys and greater Bermuda community,” he said.

Sen Wilson had delivered a Ministerial Statement reflecting on the registration drive, when 1,081 unemployed people signed up between June 21 and July 1.

The majority of unemployed people reported their last jobs were in construction, retail, repair services, public administration, transport, communication, financial intermediation and business services.

She also pointed to a growing trend of ‘underemployment’, in which people are employed but want or need more work than is currently available to them.

Sen Wilson said: “It is important that the people of Bermuda know that the information gathered during the Unemployment Registration Drive will be used on multiple levels. Registered persons will be offered job search assistance and a strategic plan, with sustainable and long-term solutions to meet the training and job placement needs of the people of Bermuda will be produced.

“Despite the extended periods of time that persons are finding themselves unemployed, it is important that unemployed persons make applications for available jobs. I cannot stress this point enough. Please know that during times such as these we must continue to persevere.

“In the interim, I and some of my colleagues are preparing to launch a series of short and medium term initiatives involving training, job placement and back-to-work programmes very soon.

“I trust that these programmes will provide an added incentive and much needed reprieve to those seeking a short-term income boost.”

Sen Burt’s remarks came in the debate over the Public Treasury (Administration and Payments) Amendment Act, which gives Government access to $1.15 million it stashed away in 2002 for unemployment initiatives.

He said: “The Government has always been committed to workforce development and providing employment opportunities to those wishing to be gainfully employed.

“The fact that persons have gone out of their way to sign up in the recent Unemployment Registration Drive speaks to the fact that the majority of persons wish to be employed.

“We will use the tools and resources at our disposal in a dynamic way to provide hope and opportunity and access to the Bermuda dream.

“Accordingly, the Government now proposes to use the funds accumulated in the Unemployment Insurance Fund to assist the unemployed including creating employment initiatives for those persons unemployed. These amendments to the Act will provide for this initiative.

“The Government has already identified proposals on how to improve, in the immediate future, the employment landscape in Bermuda in order to get Bermudians back to work.

“In closing, it is important to continue to help people through these challenging times and this legislation will provide temporary assistance to persons by providing employment opportunities for those persons willing and able to work.”

One Bermuda Alliance Senate leader Michael Dunkley recalled he was sceptical when the money was set aside nine years ago, in the run-up to a general election.

“I couldn’t understand the logic of setting up an unemployment fund with no clue to how it was going to be used,” said Senator Dunkley.

He added if that money had been managed more prudently, instead of being left to sit, it could have matured into a significant sum, but he said the OBA backs the bill.

Government Senator LaVerne Furbert argued the Finance Minister of the time, the late Eugene Cox, was a man of high integrity.

“To even hint he would be looking out for the workers as an election ploy is really not a very good thing to say,” she said.

Sen Wilson said Government was doing the right thing nine years ago to prepare for a time when unemployment may come, despite constant criticism her party had not been ready for the economic crisis.

OBA Senator Kathy Michelmore questioned why further deposits had not been made into the fund, after it was established in 2002.

Government Senator Cromwell Shakir and Independent Senator Joan Dillas-Wright both backed the bill, with Sen Shakir saying Government had acted responsibly nine years ago.

?I and some of my colleagues are preparing to launch a series of short and medium term initiatives involving training, job placement and back-to-work programmes very soon. I trust that these programmes will provide an added incentive and much need reprieve to those seeking a short-term income boost? Economy Minister Kim Wilson

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Published August 04, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 04, 2011 at 9:53 am)

Average age of jobless is 38 survey

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