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OBA: More needs to be done to create and attract jobs

Government initiatives that train jobless Bermudians into wage-earning positions has received guarded Opposition support.

Economy Minister Patrice Minors has indicated that vendors able to hire and train unemployed locals will be viewed more favourably when distributing Government contracts.

Shadow Economy Minister Bob Richards said the One Bermuda Alliance was “all in favour” of the scheme.

“I want to say that up front. We’re all in favour any efforts to train and qualify Bermudians for whatever position, be it pot washers or CEOs. Our position is that that’s not the problem. We feel the problem is the lack of demand for workers, and the lack of demand for employees.”

Mr Richards said Government should focus on “getting businesses coming here to employ Bermudians and non-Bermudians”.

Repeating a statement from a recent OBA public meeting, Mr Richards said: “Otherwise, we’ll have the most qualified unemployed people on Earth.”

Shadow Business Development Minister Shawn Crockwell questioned whether the schemes, organised in tandem with Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, were more than “short-term initiatives”.

“Clearly, any initiatives that help people to get work in these difficult economic times are a good thing,” Mr Crockwell said. “But I think Government needs more sustainable programmes to get real results.”

Projects such as the renovation of lifeguard housing at John Smith’s Bay, and the Small Works Job Initiative that provided jobless Bermudians with employment on Government-owned facilities were unveiled last year.

Most recently, a new cleaning contract for the Dame Lois Browne-Evans building gave priority for a number of jobless Bermudians to get trained and working as night cleaners.

Said Mr Crockwell: “Look at the volume of jobs. Those individuals that would be employed, sure, they are pleased that the Government took that initiative. But is that going to really address and solve the growing issue of unemployment in this Country, which is reaching eight to ten percent?”

He questioned whether the “fanfare” over the latest initiative had been justified.

For Bermuda Chamber of Commerce president Buddy Rego, the provision of training was key.

“Obviously, we are all about employing qualified Bermudians,” he said. “The Chamber fully supports trying to get those Bermudians employed, but what Bermuda needs is qualified employees.”

Mr Rego said great success has been shown in hospitality initiatives such as the waiter-server programme, and construction job initiatives, in which there had been collaboration and consultation with the Chamber.

“There has been a major, significant impetus in hospitality to place unemployed Bermudians in the industry, as waiter staff and in hotels,” he said.

Any initiatives that furnished workers with skills would be of lasting benefit, Mr Rego added.

“As simple as it seems, not everybody could be a waiter. There are requirements that waiters need to have. Every job has stringent requirements, across the full spectrum of the workforce.”

Useful website: www.gov.bm.

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Published February 21, 2012 at 8:38 am (Updated February 21, 2012 at 8:38 am)

OBA: More needs to be done to create and attract jobs

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