Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, Jamahl Simmons stated today that a whole “new approach” is needed to ensure that Bermudians come first in their own country.
Speaking at a news conference this morning, the Minister said the Government will conduct an assessment of the tourism industry to help move unemployed Bermudians into jobs held by non-Bermudians.
Working in tandem with the Department of Immigration, the Department of Workforce Development and stakeholders, he said the industry-wide skills and needs assessment will identify areas where unemployed or underemployed Bermudians can be trained to fill or be promoted into jobs currently held by foreigners.
“For Bermuda to realise its fullest potential we must have a well-trained, highly-qualified Bermudian work force where the only limit to growth and advancement is the ones that individuals put on themselves,” he said.
“To achieve this goal, we must ensure full alignment between the worker skill sets, industry demands and the education and training being offered.”
The Bermuda Hospitality Institute will also be revitalised to help Bermudians get into the tourism industry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Workforce Development.
“The training and designations that the BHI offers will be enhanced to certify Bermudians so they can become stakeholders in the tourism industry,” said the Minister.
As promised in the 2017 Throne Speech, he also reiterated that the ACBDA will be transformed into the Bermuda Event Authority (BEA), to adopt a “more diverse and inclusive” approach to finding events for the island that will benefit a wider segment of the community.
“Bermuda is more than golf, rugby and sailing, and there exists the capacity to grow events relating to sports, arts and culture that will attract younger, more cosmopolitan and more diverse visitors to our shores,” said Mr Simmons.
“Also we must end the periodic over reliance on the local market to bring energy and volume spending to support some events. Working alongside the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the BEA will increase engagement with institutions and industries and seek out strategic partnerships aligned with our objectives,” he said.
“Bermuda has long punched above our weight attracting global events such as the PGA Grand Slam and The America’s Cup. Events allow Bermuda to be seen and experienced by a wider global audience, draw visitors to Bermuda and help keep Bermuda front of mind in a very competitive tourism environment.
“From both the PGA Grand Slam and The America’s Cup, lessons have been learned and we intend to build on that legacy,” he added.
To “build on the experience” of hosting AC35, he said: “The new authority will be constituted to utilize a far more diverse and inclusive approach to finding, attracting and managing events and will work with all stakeholders to ensure that economic impact is felt by the many and not just the few.
“We believe that those who in the past were expected to live off scraps from the table must now have a place at the table,” said the Minister.
Consultation on how to reignite the island’s nightlife and entertainment scene will also be held to attract young, cosmopolitan visitors.
“For years Bermudians and visitors alike have sought to improve our local nightlife and entertainment,” he said. “We seek a younger, more diverse and more cosmopolitan audience and to do that we must take a critical and constructive look at what we currently offer.
“To that end, the Ministry will engage in a consultative process with businesses, the unions and the people of Bermuda to identify and advance changes that will enhance our overall product, create new entrepreneurial opportunities and address the perception that there is “nothing to do in Bermuda”.
In keeping with the Throne Speech initiatives, he said: “A better, fairer Bermuda is one that not only ensures that there are more seats at the economic table, but is also one that invests in Bermudians and provides opportunities not just to be hired, trained and promoted, but to also own and run businesses of our own.
“In the months ahead, I will provide updates on these and other initiatives designed to do just that.”
Overall, he said the Throne Speech initiatives that fall under his Ministry, which he will be “advancing over the next year”, are “designed to create new business and entrepreneurial opportunities while enhancing and modernizing our tourism product”.
“With jobs for non-Bermudians continuing to grow while Bermudian jobs are lost in the tourism industry, it is clear that a new approach is needed to ensure that Bermudians come first in jobs and opportunities in our own country,” he said.
“For Bermuda to realize its fullest potential we must have a well-trained highly-qualified Bermudian work force where the only limit to growth and advancement is the ones that individuals put on themselves. To achieve this goal, we must ensure full alignment between the worker skill sets, industry demands, and the education and training being offered.”
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