Gordon-Pamplin outlines employment efforts
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Home Affairs, announced today that hard work continues to get Bermudians back into the job force, while attempting to process applications quickly,
Speaking on initiatives highlighted in the 2016 Throne Speech, the minister said the Bermuda Government's goal was to improve the quality of life of those on the island and help Bermudians find work.
The ministry would work to make sure guest workers in certain fields — including such categories as landscaping gardener, auto mechanic, electrician and welder — met certified standards and secure authorisation from the Department of Workforce Development, before a work permit could be issued.
“What we have done is to enhance what happens within the Department of Workforce Development to ensure that we have national certification,” she said. “In order for someone to hold themselves out as competent, they require certification.
“There are times when those areas require work permits, so looking out for the employment of our people, it is important that we ensure that as many Bermudians as possible are able to get jobs in their country. In terms of work permits for specific industries, we will be minimising work permits that are issued as much as we possibly can to enhance the ability of Bermudians to be employed.
“In looking at that, we will make sure that if someone is coming in and requires a work permit, in the absence of a Bermudian qualified to do that job, we will make sure that person also has the national standard certification before they are able to apply for a work permit.”
She added: “By having a set curriculum, having a training officer to ensure that the standards are set and to have enforcement officers, helps ensure that our Bermudians qualify at a level that may minimise the need for permits to be issued, and I'm looking forward to that.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin further noted elements of the Throne Speech aimed at “strengthening families”, such as a promised study of parental leave, including maternity, paternity and adoption leave.
“This is an issue that we will put to the Labour Advisory Council,” she said. “We will confirm the structure around which they will be operating in this regard and terms of reference so we can have these discussions in a meaningful way.
“It is very important from a social perspective to strengthen the family structure that we have systems in place where people can feel comfortable, where if they require time off then it is structured and supported by government policies.”
She said that the government would work to address the issue of collecting child maintenance payment arrears, adding: “We have to make sure our young people are not disadvantaged because one parent is not meeting their obligations.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin also noted the continuing work of the Immigration Working Group, which is tackling immigration issues raised in the Pathways to Status legislation.
One element — that of adoption — has already been addressed by legislation, and at present the group is in the public consultation phase of the second element, mixed status families.
The group will later tackle more contentious issues, such as the possibility of granting Bermudian status to some long-term residents.
Asked about the speed at which the ministry is processing work permit and Bermudian Status applications, Ms Gordon Pamplin said the ministry was working to accelerate the process.
“There have been delays in processing certain things,” she said. “We have put measures in place in order to create efficiencies in the department. We are looking at bettering the interaction we have with the public to make sure that everyone is happy at the end of the day.”