Director of Labour John Pinder suggested yesterday that the unemployment rate in The Bahamas could be lowered if Bahamians, particularly young men, exercise more discipline in the workplace.
Pinder said at least 100 people come to the department every week seeking labor certificates confirming that there are no qualified Bahamians in the workforce to fill particular jobs, but there are many Bahamians who are qualified and either do not apply or quit after only a few weeks of working.
He also said in some cases where the department matches a Bahamian to a job, there is no way of guaranteeing that Bahamian was fairly interviewed or interviewed at all, a challenge the department plans to address.
“They (an employer) may ask for a welder,” Pinder said during an interview at the Department of Labour.
“We may have persons listed in our skills bank as having the skills to weld, but when they find out that they have to lay on their back welding and it is some very skillful, [tactical] way of doing some welding sometimes, they kind of quit and don’t bother with it.
“All the employers would have said to us that Bahamians have the ability to perform a lot of these duties, but they don’t have the ‘stickability’ to keep themselves employed.
“So, I think too often they just look for a job, not actually a career.
“So, if we can now encourage Bahamians to take a job and make it a career then I think we will have more improvement as it relates to performance in the workplace.”
He added, “Again, we have to do our best to encourage our young men to be disciplined.
“We have to put some discipline program in place, so that people [can] discipline themselves to know that you have to give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.”
Results from the most recent Labor Force Survey show unemployment moved from 10.1 percent last November to 10 percent in May.
The survey demonstrates the size of the labor force increased at nearly the same rate as job creation, leading to near stagnation in the unemployment rate.
Pinder said the department has sought to place unemployed Bahamians in vacant positions as they become available, but he noted that there is another challenge: Employers advertising jobs with a low listed salary scale.
“That’s a discouragement to the person who’s looking for a job,” Pinder said.
“And then sometimes they set the criteria so high that they figure no Bahamian will qualify, and so Bahamians don’t actually apply.
“So, what we are trying to do is we are trying to ensure that there is some transparency.
“If you ask for this person to have a certain degree and a certain amount of languages that they can speak we want to see some certificate to ensure that this person does have that, and then we would check how authentic that certificate is.
“In addition to that we want to see how we can cause there to be some fairness as it relates to interviews, because we are not even sure if these people go to interviews and if they get the same type of interview as the person who the employer really wants to bring in.
“So, these are some things that we really want to do.”
Unemployment dropped on New Providence by less than one percent – from 10.6 to 10 percent.
However, in Grand Bahama unemployment increased from 12.1 percent to 12.4 percent.
In Abaco, the joblessness increased from 8.6 percent to 10.7 percent.
Pinder said he expects employment to increase in Grand Bahama as the government turns the economy around with several stimulus projects.
He noted that more and more people continue to leave that island and transfer to New Providence in search of work.