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Minnis: Skills development key to reducing dependence on foreign workers

The government is hoping to identify skill sets and certifications that are needed for the jobs of the future so that it can reduce the dependency on foreign workers, stimulate economic growth and reduce unemployment, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday.

Minnis, who spoke at the opening of the National Skills Symposium yesterday, said the initiative is needed for the country’s “long-term social and economic success”. He added that success depends on the ability of the government and the private sector to harness the capabilities of the Bahamian workforce.

Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) Executive Director Matthew Aubry, during his address at the symposium, said employers are challenged to find the job skills in this country needed to run their operations. He explained that the Inter-American Development Bank reported that 34 percent of employers 

cannot find job specific skilled workers, while 24 percent said they have trouble finding laborers with soft skills.

“Ensuring that we have a vibrant, strong and thriving workforce is critical to our ability to drive a vibrant and strong economy, and our ability to have vibrant and strong governance,” he said.

“This is really about tapping into the most valuable resource that The Bahamas has; the potential that lies within our youth, and the tools that are lined up to be able to support that and the outcomes that we can grasp.” 

Minnis lamented in his address that thousands of work permits are approved annually for foreign workers, as many employers claim Bahamians lack the skills and/or certifications to fill vacancies. Those employers even provide evidence to the Department of Labour to this effect.

Minnis said he hopes that the deliberations at the symposium will spawn ideas and recommendations to help curb the proliferation of unnecessary foreign labor.

“It is envisaged that they will form the basis for the development and implementation of the best mechanisms to strengthen our educational system and in particular, technical and vocational training programs,” said Minnis.

“Indeed, I look forward to reviewing the comprehensive report from the National Committee of Industry and Skills Development.

“This report will assist us in linking the critical needs of employers with the curricula and training needed to assist the labor force in meeting the demands of the job market now and in the future.”

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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