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IDB: Labor survey to boost jobs and innovation

A landmark survey of businesses now well underway in New Providence and Grand Bahama promises to bolster employment and identify the gaps and needs of the labor market.

The Bahamas Department of Statistics, with technical support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), have launched the survey to assess employee productivity, training procedures, competency levels and innovation in the marketplace.

Astrid Wynter, the IDB representative for The Bahamas, told Guardian Business it would “more than likely” result in a rise in employment and a greater scope for the marketplace.

By understanding what the economy needs and wants, the survey can give birth to new industry and opportunities. Similar surveys have been conducted in Panama and Uruguay, she said.

Wynter said surveying more than 500 businesses in New Providence and 150 in Grand Bahama should provide a comprehensive road map of the labor pool.

“It is an exercise that tells us what the employer is looking for. It will provide us with information on training. If the economy needs plumbers, for example, maybe we shouldn’t be hiring carpenters. The survey creates better matches for jobs and training.”

The results will be available in the second quarter of this year.

The survey could reveal some unwelcomed observations on workplace competency and whether the educational system is adequately supplying the market with the right mix of skills.

But the IDB said the process is timely as The Bahamas enters “the initial stage of a boom in foreign direct investment”, perhaps most notably the $2.6 billion  Baha Mar resort on Cable Beach being funded by the Export-Import Bank of China.

According to a previous survey undertaken as an occupational wage survey, conducted in 2007, 65 percent of Bahamian CEOs said they believed that there was a serious skills shortage. IDB also stated 80 percent of that shortage would impact the country’s future economic growth.

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