TUESDAY, NOV. 6: I’m pleased to provide further information about the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and its programmes and initiatives that will evolve during the course of this legislative season.

Our aim as Government, as you are already aware, is to build prosperous and successful neighborhoods.

To achieve this, not only have we set out to use economic empowerment tools but also to regenerate positive community values through the development of the Community Councils Act as was recently shared.  I expect that the policy work will be completed in the coming months and the Bill prepared thereafter.

But, ladies and gentleman, our efforts cannot stop with reforming and reshaping the Parish Councils. 

Strengthening the social fabric of our society means attending to a number of factors which include redirecting our young people and giving them the tools that they require to be productive which is why we are focused on advancing the Job Corps initiative. 

Yes, I have read the criticism with respect to the time taken to advance this initiative however this is an initiative that requires a great deal of planning to ensure effective implementation.  You will be aware that the Ministry, as a part of Phase 1 committed to using the current budget year to consult with stakeholders and to complete a full operations plan and manual, business plan and procedures manual.  Odle International was contracted to assist with Phase 1 – the Programme Development Phase and this work has now been completed.

As a result, my Ministry is currently engaged in the public consultation phase. 

We have already hosted one public meeting and next week on Tuesday, 13th November at 7:00 p.m. we will host a west end public meeting at Heron Bay School.  Also, on Thursday, 15th November at 7:00 p.m. we will host an east end public meeting, at Bethel A.M.E Church. 

It is important that the public is given the opportunity to provide their views and input prior to moving this initiative into Phase three because as I’ve said, it is imperative that we get it right.

Some will already be aware that Job Corps is a free education and training programme that helps young people gain self confidence, prepare for a career, earn a GED and excel in a profession. 

The programme employs a holistic career development training approach which integrates the teaching of academic, vocational, employability skills and social competencies through a combination of classroom, practical and work based learning experiences to prepare young adults for stable, long-term, high-paying jobs.  This programme is being designed as a residential programme and Harmony Club, in consultation with the Bermuda Housing Corporation, has been identified as the venue. 

Early estimates suggest that the capital development project will cost in the region of $6 million dollars, which is of course a one-off cost.   Job Corps’ annual operating budget will range between $5 and $6 million. 

The community will recall that this is intended to be a public-private initiative and we will soon embark on Phase 3 which is an aggressive campaign to secure the funding necessary to move this programme forward. 

It is my belief that collectively,  we, the government and the private sector, will work together to prepare our young people to make a meaningful contribution both socially and professionally, resulting in jobs that “they” can be proud of and productive young people that “Bermuda” can be proud of.

As it relates to jobs, let me be clear, this government is committed to retaining jobs and to stimulating the creation of new jobs. 

The 2012 Work Permit Policies being prepared for implementation contain a number of policies that are favourable to the interest of local and international business partners. 

The community can expect a balanced policy, one that is designed to create mutually beneficial conditions for the establishment of new businesses in Bermuda and one that also makes it easy for businesses that have moved to other jurisdictions to return. 

The new policy recognizes that we live in a global marketplace and positions Bermuda to compete more effectively.

To this end, I expect that the stakeholder group that has been working collaborative with the Ministry will receive the second draft of the 2012 Work Permit Policies within the next week for any final comments and or proposed amendments. 

I expect that the new policy will be implemented soon thereafter.

Thank you.