While there are concerns that there will be a shortage of labor to rebuild Abaco and Grand Bahama, President of the Bahamian Contractors Association Michael Pratt contended yesterday that those numbers will be exacerbated by a shortage of skills in that small labor pool, making way for more foreigners to enter this country’s construction industry.
Pratt, who was part of a panel at a Bahamas Society of Engineers lunch meeting at The Balmoral, contended that the problematic skills gap that exists in the country will further slow the rebuilding efforts on the islands affect by Hurricane Dorian.
“We have a serious skills gap,” he said.
“We have to pull now from workers who we are told are not licensed…they do not have any standards and qualifications. They are good workers, don’t get me wrong, but they just are not qualified.
“There is a fear people will come in and take our jobs. They are coming from outside, inundating us with their skills and their non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and everything else, and we sit there and we’re still not qualified and the industry is still not regulated, and that’s something we really have to work on.
“They come all ready, willing and able to take our jobs. They are coming as NGOs. A lot of them are giving out business cards.”
Pratt said the Bahamian Contractors Association is trying to address the skills gap by putting together courses where high school students can earn certificates that will allow them to enter the workforce.
He pointed to the lack of certified welders in the country as a problem that allows foreign workers to be brought in.
“We have to take our country back, but it’s going to take a long time,” he said.