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Call for caution on proposals for PRCs, retaining workforce

Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Government has been urged to be cautious in consultations on a policy paper to retain the local workforce, including broadening access to Permanent Resident’s Certificates.

Last month, Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, put forward a position paper on the plan in the House of Assembly that includes a raft of recommendations the ministry has put together for public consultation to retain the workforce with greater protection for Bermudian workers.

At the time, Mr Hayward said action needed to be taken to address the falling birthrate and ageing population on the island.

Mr Hayward said yesterday that no “fundamental” objections came from feedback on the consultation process.

He called the response from stakeholders “positive”.

Mr Hayward said he had engaged in a number of stakeholder meetings “where we walk through each and every proposal and the stakeholders were able to give their feedback on their support or where they believe a proposal can be tweaked”.

Feedback from the meetings indicated that “across the board everybody identifies and understands that there is a problem and that it requires a solution”.

He said “there are persons that understand that we need to act now” and added that there has been no “fundamental challenges with the solutions being put it place”.

Mr Hayward said there were minor tweaks and additional considerations.

“We have some people that are cautious and will always ask for additional data and whether or not we can build some protections around some of the policy solutions that we put in place.”

He added: “You will see that what we propose that we are going to implement may not be 100 per cent in alignment with our original position that we put out in the policy paper based on and taken on their feedback.”

Last month, Mr Hayward invited consultation on the proposals in the position paper “in the hope of harnessing the best ideas from the community, and seeking feedback on proposals to retain Bermuda’s local workforce for the long-term benefit of our country”.

The policy paper includes a proposal for non-Bermudian parents of Bermudian children to be able to apply for PRC status after ten years of ordinary residence, down from 15 years.

According to the paper, PRC eligibility requirements would be reduced to five years for those working in certain professions, including registered nurses, chartered financial analysts, certified actuaries, computer engineers, software developers and certified accountants.

Mr Hayward said the island needed to consider both Bermudians and guest workers, but he made it clear that the proposals included in the position paper did not include a pathway to Bermudian status.

“As a government, we want to see more and better opportunities for Bermudians — the chance to earn a living wage doing meaningful work, the opportunity to enter the most sought-after industries, create new ones, be entrepreneurs and socially conscious contributors to our economy and society.

“We want Bermudian workers to have a real chance to thrive.

“For guest workers, we want to give stability and certainty, in addition to fairness and a chance to feel at home in the place where many are raising families and contributing to our community economically and socially.”

Mr Hayward said that to retain Bermudians in the workforce, the Government would encourage working-age Bermudians to remain on the island, strengthen labour protections, ensure that Bermudians studying abroad return to Bermuda and encourage the retention of older Bermudians in the workplace.

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Published April 17, 2024 at 7:56 am (Updated April 17, 2024 at 7:26 am)

Call for caution on proposals for PRCs, retaining workforce

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