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OBA claims ‘too many’ questions on Government job figures left unanswered

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Ben Smith, the One Bermuda Alliance Opposition Senate leader (File photograph)

An Opposition senator has claimed that “too many” questions about jobs figures were left unanswered by the Government.

Ben Smith highlighted that it was important to have information so that the success of policies could be measured.

The One Bermuda Alliance Senate leader said: “The Government has presented in the 2021 labour review that 747 jobs have been created in phase one of its plan.

“How many are part-time? How many are full-time? How many are still employed and how many have made it past their probation period?

“If there is a review for 2021 and they know there are 747 unemployed who became employed, surely they have the answers to these simple questions.”

He added: “The Government review shows that 53 job categories have been closed from November 2020 to January 2022.

“This, according to the review, was done to create opportunity for Bermudians to be employed in these industries.

“How many Bermudians were hired in each of these closed categories during the period, what training was provided in each closed category and how many Bermudians participated in the training?

“Once again you would think these are logical questions that would be easy to get the answers for.

“How can you gauge success in a policy if you do not track the results?”

Arianna Hodgson, the Junior Minister of Labour (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

In the Senate on Wednesday, Arianna Hodgson, the Junior Minister of Labour, said that the ministry was “focused on promoting jobs, protecting Bermudians, and responding to the needs of the economy”.

She told the Senate that “opportunities for jobseekers to achieve personal satisfaction” were provided throughout the past year.

Ms Hodgson said that the ministry implemented the first of two phases in a re-employment strategy.

She explained that phase one included help for 747 unemployed Bermudians to secure employment through the Department of Workforce Development’s Bermuda Job Board referral process.

Ms Hodgson said that the moratorium for new work permits “enabled us to create more opportunities in the local job market for Bermudians”.

She added that there was “enhanced scrutiny of work permit applications to ensure that capable and qualified Bermudians were not passed over for job opportunities”.

The Progressive Labour Party senator said that the combined effect of policies introduced to help tackle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic “enabled Bermuda to be better positioned to overcome the many challenges that lay before us”.

She added: “As we build upon these initiatives we look forward to strengthening Bermuda further throughout the upcoming year when we will take further steps to continue to build a better Bermuda for all.”

Mr Smith claimed that there were questions asked by the Opposition over the past year “that the Government has left unanswered, and the question is why?”

He added: “The outright lack of answers – or very vague ones – leaves me to ponder: are they purposely avoiding answering these important questions that will help to give clarity to what is the plan?

“How will accountability be enforced?

“There are too many questions being left unanswered or lack of data to give an informed answer.

“Bermuda is at a critical stage and we need to make sure that the decisions we take are based on facts not just to give the perception of help.

“There are many small to medium size businesses that have been hurt by the moratorium that want to know that the decision was based on actual data and that the desired impact has been reached.

“We will keep asking the questions because Bermuda needs the answers.

“Bermuda needs to start to ask – why aren’t the questions being answered?”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Labour said that the workforce development department does not compile labour market statistics.

He added: “The employment statistics are reported through the Labour Force Survey and the Employment Survey conducted by the Department of Statistics.

“These surveys provide the most accurate labour market data.”

The spokesman said Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour, announced in October that more than 757 Bermudians found employment through the Department of Workforce Development’s Bermuda Job Board referral process.

Although Ms Hodgson’s statement cited 747, the spokesman confirmed that 757 was the correct figure.

He added that Mr Hayward “also announced that more than 750 individuals have participated in various face-to-face, online, on-the-job, virtual learning, webinars, internships, apprenticeships and trainee programmes”.

The spokesman said: “These training initiatives have led to approximately 80 individuals receiving full-time or part-time employment, in addition to the 750 Bermudians mentioned above.”

He added: “While we await this year’s Labour Force and Employment Survey data, this Government is committed to the success of its employment initiatives.

“In line with Bermuda’s Economic Recovery Plan, the Ministry of Labour will continue to implement initiatives that position more Bermudians to take advantage of the job opportunities created during Bermuda’s economic recovery.”

• UPDATE: This article has been updated to include a comment from the Government in response to Mr Smith’s remarks.

* To read the ministerial statement delivered in the Senate, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published December 17, 2021 at 7:43 am (Updated December 17, 2021 at 7:43 am)

OBA claims ‘too many’ questions on Government job figures left unanswered

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