Not surprisingly, the Minister of Labour, Jason Hayward told MPs that Bermuda’s unemployment rate has nearly doubled since 2019.
Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, Mr Hayward said while the most recent labour report had yet to be released, initial indications “based on the data” show “the unemployment rate has close to doubled”.
His comments came after he updated MPs on the education, training and employment programmes in the Government’s re-employment strategy through the Department of Workforce Development.
He also elaborated “on Phase 2 initiatives aimed at preparing Bermudians to take advantage of job opportunities and connecting them with jobs that arise”.
Highlights of the Minister’s full statement:
As part of the Government’s mandate, the Ministry of Labour introduced a National Re-employment Strategy to provide training, career development and employment opportunities to better position unemployed Bermudians in their transition back into the workforce as we move beyond the pandemic.
I am pleased to report that the Department of Workforce Development has continued to provide training opportunities for unemployed Bermudians through a phased approach.
I am truly grateful to all of the public and private sector stakeholders who have partnered with the Ministry in the development and execution of the numerous initiatives that have benefitted many unemployed Bermudians.
- Thirteen (13) new training, career development and employment programmes have been successfully delivered.
- Over six hundred and fifty (650) persons participated in the various face-to-face, on-the-job, online, virtual learning, webinars, internships, apprenticeships and trainee programmes.
- Approximately seventy (70) individuals have received part-time or full-time employment as a direct result of these training initiatives.
- Since November 2020, the number of unemployed Bermudians that have received employment opportunities through the Department of Workforce Development’s Bermuda Job Board referral process is three hundred and eighty-eight (388).
It should be noted that the Department of Workforce Development is not a recruitment agency. The Department’s principle responsibility is to provide persons with the training, development and support needed to ensure readiness should job opportunities arise.
In a joint initiative with the Department of Financial Assistance, the Department of Workforce Development has completed Personal Employment Plans for a pilot of 20 financial assistance clients. Employment Plans include Work Readiness, Financial Literacy, and Computer Literacy Training, along with individual career coaching and support.
The Department aims to achieve work readiness credentials for all able-bodied clients on financial assistance.
Phase 2 of the Strategy will build upon the progress made to train and employ Bermudians in Phase 1. Phase 2 initiatives will focus on training, reskilling, up-scaling and utilizing the transferable skills of unemployed Bermudians. This strategy is to assist unemployed Bermudians to become better equipped and positioned to take advantage of opportunities that exist in specific closed and restricted job categories in the job market. Phase 2 will focus heavily on industry-driven initiatives that better connect training with employment opportunities for unemployed Bermudians in high demand occupations.
To this end, the following initiatives are currently in place:
- Economic Stimulus Programme Jobs Initiative – Nine (9) companies have expressed interest in employing Bermudians as apprentices and trainees as well as experienced trades persons.
- The Department has begun to reach out to the companies to determine what skill-sets are required, to make the appropriate pairing from the Department’s client unemployment database.
- The Department aims to provide twenty (20) job opportunities to employ Bermudians from their client base.
- To date four (4) Bermudians have been placed in employment with another sixteen (16) going through the assessment stage for this new joint partnership initiative with the Department of Works & Engineering.
- Industry-Driven Network Partnerships – The Department plans to continue forging additional partnerships with industry professionals and HR professional training providers to broaden the range of on-the-job training, internships, virtual learning webinars and online career development and training programmes.
- Training and Development Programmes – The Department plans to expand its current vocational and technical programme to include new short and long-term certificate programmes to increase employment opportunities that include on-the-job internships and experience for unskilled and semi-skilled Bermudians. New certificate programmes will include, but are not limited to:
- IT Certifications;
- Elevator Mechanic;
- Solar Technicians;
- Masonry; and
- Automotive Electric Car Technicians.
- Employer and Industry Engagement – The Department will continue to collaborate and consult with key industry stakeholders to discuss their specific employment needs and requirements for small, medium and large size businesses. As recently as this week, the Chamber of Commerce has agreed to form a Sub-Committee to work directly with the Ministry on synergy strategies to re-employ Bermudians.
I can report that through the public appeal to unemployed Bermudians, over two hundred and seventy (270) candidates have registered on the Bermuda Job Board. The Department will follow a three-step process in this regard:
- It will assess all candidates;
- It will refer suitable candidates to employers for potential employment opportunities; and
- It will provide the support needed to assist candidates in achieving their employment goals including résumé development, interview skills, and coaching in other areas.
Despite Bermuda’s workforce continuing to contract, creating increased levels of unemployment for Bermudians, the Government remains committed to ensuring that we prepare Bermudians for job opportunities that exist, and to connect them with these jobs where possible.
As Minister, I will ensure the cross-ministry work of the Ministry of Labour remains focused and intentional in its multi-pronged approach to facilitating training and employment opportunities in the implementation of Phase 2 of the National Re-employment Strategic Plan.