WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1: Madam President, you will be aware that during the early 90’s Bermuda’s economy evolved from a labour-based economy to a knowledge-based economy.  This knowledge-based economy is driven by International Business which now shares the economic stage with Tourism.

The National Economic Report of Bermuda 2010 indicates that: “over the first nine months of 2010, foreign exchange earnings of the international companies grew by $79 million to $1.6 billion representing an increase of 4.3 per cent”.

In 2010 there were 15,091 international companies registered in Bermuda and this sector provided 4,293 jobs in the economy; when adding the number of jobs in its supporting services such as banking, law, and financial services, this number increases to more than 10,000.

Madam President, Bermuda has been unable to supply enough Bermudians to sustain this sector of our economy.

As at March 2011, there were thousands of work permits in the knowledge-based categories, including:

• 117 Actuaries;

• 915 Accountants;

• 128 Lawyers;

• 189 Underwriters;

• 158 IT and Systems related specialists;

and a host of other industry professionals in a wide range of job categories.  In many cases these are leaders, senior managers and unit heads within various organizations.

These jobs, create other jobs.  Jobs for Bermudians.

Madam President, even in tough economic times when jobs are being lost, it is clear that guest workers, in international business and other sectors, will continue to be vital to sustaining a large number of Bermudian jobs.  Without these guest workers Bermuda’s economy would not have grown to its current level and our earning power and lifestyle would be much different.

That said Madam President, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry continues to advocate on behalf of those Bermudians who have been displaced as a result of the economic pressure on companies in this sector to “right size”.  A file is being compiled with the details of highly qualified and experienced Bermudians with significant levels of international business experience who have been displaced and need to be reintegrated into the sector.  I have personally met with several of these persons to learn of their challenges.

Our plan is to work with industry to ensure that these persons are provided with opportunities to compete for new jobs in the sector.  The new jobs will be realized as a result of the collective efforts of Government and industry to stimulate the growth of the sector.

In the interim, we will work with the industry on behalf of these highly qualified individuals to match them with the right organizations.

Madam President, I am committed to effectively directing Ministry resources and developing programmes to ensure that properly skilled employees are available to help run our sophisticated and multifaceted economy.  The Government will continue to work diligently to achieve the balance between the rights and aspirations of Bermudians to be employed in their own country and the genuine needs of the business community.

Thank you Madam President.