Minister Fahy pictured with from L to R: Andrew Albright, Jordan Zancanelle, Jennita DeShields, Taijaun Talbot and Waleed Lightbourne. These individuals are considered the success stories of the Department of Workforce Development. They are in the fields of accountancy, nursing, custodial and hospitality - all programmes Government has supported.
Minister Fahy pictured with from L to R: Andrew Albright, Jordan Zancanelle, Jennita DeShields, Taijaun Talbot and Waleed Lightbourne. These individuals are considered the success stories of the Department of Workforce Development. They are in the fields of accountancy, nursing, custodial and hospitality - all programmes Government has supported.

Good afternoon and thank you for joining me.

Today I want to discuss what I think we all recognise is a topic of national importance – jobs and employment.

There has been significant commentary from advocacy groups and other entities within our community which would seem to suggest that this Government is doing absolutely nothing to address the employment concerns in our community.

While we acknowledge that we would love to see our economic recovery moving at a brisker pace, the fact remains that there are market factors beyond our control that dictate the speed of our recovery.

However what is within our control are our efforts to implement short and long term solutions aimed at helping Bermudians navigate through this job market. So, today, in an effort to update the public, I am taking this opportunity to comprehensively highlight the many initiatives that the Ministry of Home Affairs has undertaken to train and prepare Bermudians for this changing workforce.

Before I start however I want to stress this important point - there are opportunities available – they just need to be taken advantage of.

And while we can create an environment for these opportunities, we are not getting the high volume of enrolment in these training programmes that we would hope from those who are looking to get back to work.

I think it prudent at this stage to highlight the figures that we have on our data base at the Department of Workforce Development of those who are under/unemployed. 

I can report that as of April 30, 2014, the numbers of unemployed and underemployed totaled just over 1,800. I must stress that this number fluctuates.

As individuals find full time employment they come off our data base. And as some become unemployed they join our data base. These numbers represent qualified and underqualified individuals. The majority of unemployed/underemployed are in the service industry – such as general administration, personnel and hospitality.

We also have many from the construction industry, such as masons and labourers. This is an indication to me that now more than ever, we need to grow our economy and attract more people to the Island so that we can expand our business in order to create jobs.

Simply put – more people in Bermuda means more jobs.

As it relates to our current efforts of training and developing Bermudians, this past year, there were close to 400 Bermudians involved in various programmes from construction to accounting. And the following illustrates the efforts being dedicated both educationally and financially to help Bermudians regain their footing in the workforce.

Scholarship Award Programmes

As it relates to our award programmes, for the 2013/2014 fiscal period, the Department of Workforce Development provided funding for a total of 116 students to attend various colleges and universities overseas – the cost of such was approximately $600,000. There are several types of scholarships available through the National Training Section of the Department of Workforce Development.

They include:

The National Technical and Vocational Training Award (NTVT)

The National Training Board provides $5,000 annually for persons who have successfully been accepted into further education programmes in accredited colleges and universities.

The Technical Vocational and Educational Training Award (TVET)

This award was designed to assist those already employed who require additional training to enhance their skills to allow for career advancement. This award is up to $5,000.

Sponsored Trainee Award

This award is generally used for those who have registered in a formal apprenticeship programme. The Department provides funding of up to $18,000 for tuition towards a degree programme for the first two years of training at an accredited institution.

Partnerships with industry stakeholders

The Construction Association of Bermuda

The Department of Workforce Development in partnership with the Construction Association, ensures that the National Construction Centre of Education and Research program (NCCER) continues to be available in our senior schools and at the Bermuda College.

The Department provides an annual grant of $80,000 to the Construction Association who is the license holder for the NCCER programme. Last year - 41 Bermuda College students participated in this programme along with 8 Cedarbridge Academy students.

The Bermuda College

The previous Government established an MOU with the Bermuda College to offer a Retraining Scholarships Fund in an effort to provide training opportunities for Bermudians in areas traditionally filled by significant numbers of non-Bermudians. For example, accounting, nursing and teaching. An estimated $700,000 has been provided to support these further educational opportunities for Bermudians. 

Accounting:

Work permit data indicates that there are in excess of 400 active work permits for professionally qualified Accountants in Bermuda. Three certification programmes in accounting were made available with the aim of increasing the number of qualified Bermudians so that they can assume these roles in the local market.

Nursing:

It is a known fact that there is a global shortage of nurses. And there has been a documented need for Bermudians to enter into this profession. Currently we have 370 work permits for registered nurses.

To that end, a two year Associate of Science in Nursing Degree (ADN) designed in partnership with the Department of Workforce Development, the Bermuda College, and the Bermuda Hospital’s Board was implemented. There are currently four (4) individuals enrolled at the Bermuda College with a projected matriculation date of December 2014.

Teacher Certification:

The Post-Degree Teacher Certification program offered by Mount Saint Vincent University in association with Bermuda College is designed for individuals who hold an undergraduate degree and are seeking to meet certification requirements for pre-school, elementary and middle school teachers in Bermuda.

To supplement all of these training and educational programmes we have undertaken to introduce a number of specialized programmes. Here are a few:

New England Institute of Technology Auto Collision Programme

Four (4) individuals successfully completed this programme. The training costs were $201,190

Meat Ipswich Butcher Programme

Four (4) individuals successfully completed this programme. The training costs were $84,800

Cleaning Management Institute Custodial Technician Certificate Programme    

32 individuals were involved in this programme. The training costs were $84,800

Power Engineering

Six (6) individuals were involved in this programme. The training costs were $20,100

Customer Service Training National Certification               

16 individuals were involved in this programme. The training costs were $4,000

We also provide a soft skills training course associated with all our training programmes to ensure that people are properly equipped with the appropriate customer service techniques.

I must also mention our cruise ship jobs initiative. To date we have hosted two orientation seminars for this initiative. And while we deem this to be a very innovative job creation programme, we just haven't had the significant uptake of participants that we would have hoped.

Other avenues that we have taken to ensure that we are reaching Bermudians include the creation of the Bermuda Job Board. This online tool allows people from the comfort of their laptop or tablet to sign up on the job board and search for available jobs.

To date, we have 1,300 candidates and 314 employers signed up on the Bermuda Job Board. There is still an opportunity to reach more individuals, and we encourage those who may not have access to a computer to visit the Department of Workforce Development so that we can lend our assistance in getting you signed up and back to work.

So ladies and gentlemen, what I have outlined demonstrates that to date this Government has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the training, education and preparation of Bermudians to ensure that they are ready for this current job market.

And if there is one thing I wish to highlight for those young people looking to study abroad I strongly encourage them to consider entering those areas of study where we have overwhelmingly high numbers of guest workers in those fields, such as accounting, nursing and other areas in the IB industry. We are a global marketplace - and we need qualified Bermudians to step into these roles.

Additionally, we recognise that some individuals may not take advantage of such opportunities because employers are looking for experience. In that regard, I can confirm that we are in the process of drafting a policy to ensure that certain job categories with high work permits must take trainees with qualifications, but Bermuda, you must do your part and get qualified.

We also acknowledge the hard work and dedication of those currently in the workforce. And we also recognise that there continues to be unscrupulous practices by some rogue employers. To that end, we are continuing to actively investigate a number of areas where employers are taking advantage of staff, especially in the cosmetology or beauty salon industry.

So we are still committed to upholding and protecting the rights of those currently in our workforce.

Finally, today I am joined by Mr. Waleed Lightbourne, Jennita DeShields, Andrew Albright and Jordan Zancanelle and Taijaun Talbot.

These individuals are the success stories of the Department of Workforce Development. They are in the fields of accountancy, nursing, custodial and hospitality - all programmes we have supported.

I want to publicly commend their determination, their courage and their perseverance in recognizing that it was ok to seek help and assistance.

The end results are Bermudians who have made the transition in tailoring their education and qualifications to not only adjust to the changing job market, but to find employment success in it.

I think in closing it’s important to note that the issues that we face did not happen overnight and they cannot be solved overnight. Of equal note, and as I have stated previously, solving our workforce challenges is not something that can be solely done by the Government.

It will take the collaboration and partnership of the private sector, the unions and most of all the Bermudians who we all serve. I cannot emphasize enough that in order for us to assist, you must not only make yourselves known to us, but you must do your part in taking advantage of the training opportunities available.

It makes no sense for us to enact these programmes if we are not going to get full participation, so your cooperation is key. And registering with the Department of Workforce Development is a first step.

Thank you.