National Security Minister announced a new joint initiative on Monday, to find 100 unemployed or under-employed Bermudians jobs in one day, at an upcoming job fair to be held later this month.
A fair will be held on Monday, March 26, at the Hamilton Seventh-Day Adventist Youth Centre from 4pm to 7pm, in partnership with Workforce Development.
The new initiative, is the follow through on the Progressive Labour Party’s pre-election promise and subsequent landslide voter support for change.
But in the same breath the Minister recalled that both he and his Cabinet colleague, recently had lunch at a local restaurant, with more than 15 people working, but not one of them was a Bermudian.
He conceded that this will not wipe out the cheap labour factor,but he said the main goal was not only to get Bermudians back to work, but for local employers to recognise that we all “have to row in together” to make this country work for all.
“They have to be able to see their part in making Bermuda a better place.” And part of that he said, includes taking on “somebody that might be broken”.
“We’re not asking people to hire gang nominals. We’re saying that if you give people an opportunity, we’re going to see a decrease in people trying to be on social services.
“We’re going to see a decrease in people being involved in gangs… a decrease in the people that are involved in anti-social behaviour.
“We’re asking our community partners to be a part of the solution in this country. And many of them are,” he said.
To that end, he invited local employers to attend the meeting planned for March 15, at the Police Recreation Club from 5:30 to 6:30pm.
Joined by Education Minister Diallo Rabain and Gang Violence Reduction Coordinator, Pastor Leroy Bean, Mr Caines said there’s “no specific demographic” and that they’re looking for anyone over the age of 18.
That includes unemployed middle-aged workers who worked in insurance or reinsurance who were made redundant.
“We want to take people from ACE, XL, we want to go to carpenters, we want to get a myriad of people. We want everyone in this country to row in together.
“This is an opportunity for you to look at our country… We want you to commit to hiring one person. And if we do this a hundred times we believe that this will be a significant dent.”
Bermuda Real asked the Minister to speak to the narrative that Bermudians bear the brunt of unemployment while non-Bermudians hold low paying jobs because they’re lazy and don’t want to work.
He conceded that the “big factor is whether or not Bermudians can afford to work for $6-$7 an hour”.
While noting that the Government is “looking at a workable – living wage”, he said: “I do believe that you’re absolutely right,”
As Bermudians he said: “We have to pay rent, we have to pay for our kids to go to nursery and to school.
“Often times this is couched as Bermudians being lazy – as Bermudians not being willing to work.
“When we have conversations with the employers these will be the things that we will discuss with them – the opportunity to give people a real opportunity in Bermuda.”
He recounted how most recently, both he and Minister Rabain, had lunch at a local restaurant, where “over 15 people working”
“There was not a one Bermudian working. I saw this not as a problem, but as a huge opportunity.”
But as a country, he said: “For a long period of time we have allowed ourselves to be sidelined.”
Working with Workforce Development “allows for us to look at what the skill sets are and to build, because you’re going to have people coming in that are not employed”.
“But they have a strong history of employment – they just need to be put back in the game,” he said.
“There are people that are learning and would need to learn a trade, and they would have to be moved onto an opportunity that allows them to apprentice. There are people that will have learning challenges. There are people that would have learning deficiencies.
“What Workforce Development does is that they triage. They put them in specific buckets and it allows us to meet the needs of people within our community.
“But let’s be clear, you have highlighted some clear facts that there are a number of Bermudians that are unemployed,” he said.
And on that note he said: “We were voted in to make some changes and this is a part of us keeping our promise to the people of Bermuda,” before vowing to facilitate “a hundred jobs in one day”.
“But the key is that we believe as a community we have to do it together.”
On a day-to-day basis”, he said both he and Mr Rabain “meet young, middle-aged and older Bermudians who just want to work”.
“They do not do not want to be sidelined, they want to be able to take care of their responsibilities. And I think there are employers that literally want to employ Bermudians that are well trained, and that they can get back in the field.
“And we’re simply going to be the conduit for bringing these people together. We want to give people a chance.”
“We want to give people that are not working to have the opportunity to feed their families.”
Minister Rabain urged job seekers to add their names to the department’s list.
“We cannot refer your name unless you come to our department to sign up for the unemployment register.”
“The challenge is not getting people that need jobs. The challenge is to get employers in the room.”
He encouraged unemployed residents “to come in and register”. Once registered, they’re assessed and “they are also matched with jobs that may have come in via the Job Board”.
“Or we have categories that are what we call closed categories that have to come to Workforce Development to see if we have anyone in our database,” said Mr Rabain, who stressed that the department is a “career preparation centre” and “not an employment agency”.
“We take people and we figure out what needs to be done with them to make them more employable and then we coach them, we give them things like resume writing skills, interviewing skills and the like.”
Those interested in taking part should contact Samantha Knight at 294-9283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.