Updating members of the House on “various initiatives being undertaken by the Department of Workforce Development Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports Lovitta Foggo said one of the department’s main goals is “to assist and prepare individuals for the world of work”.

With Career Development and Training as the two main operational functions, she said the department also “regulates certification standards in four designated occupational trades”.

She also noted that since the National Certification legislation came into effect in 2008, as of October 1, 2018, the total number of tradesmen and women was:

  • 226 Electricians;
  • 30 Welders;
  • 214 Automotive Service Technicians; and
  • 575 Landscape Gardeners

There has also been a reputable shift in the number of Bermudians who achieved National Certification since December 2017 in the four occupations totaling:

  • 108 Electricians;
  • 15 Welders;
  • 143 Automotive Service Technicians; and
  • 84 Landscape Gardeners.

“The remaining non-certified registrants are currently being assessed for approval by the Occupational Advisory Committee as provided under the National Occupational Certification Act 2004,” the Minister said.

“The Training Section has been diligently collaborating with the Department of Immigration to deliver an effective Work Permit Policy with respect to National Certification. This Policy remains under review.”

But she said this collaborative consultation process will ultimately result in alignment of the Work Permit Policy with National Certification to ensure:

  • [1] Uniform advertising for positions that align with Certification criteria thus helping to level the playing field for Bermudians
  • [2] Certified Bermudians are given a fair chance at any positions in that certified trade
  • [3] Employers demonstrate that they interviewed Certified Bermudian workers prior to being able to apply for a work permit, and
  • [4] potential guest workers demonstrate competency in their respective occupational trade that will satisfy Bermuda’s National Certification requirements before a work permit is granted.

Steady progress has also been achieved with a total of 47 Apprentices and Trainees registered with the Department of Workforce Development as of October 1st.

Benefits associated with the establishment of an apprenticeship programme include:

  • Payroll Tax Waiver for the employer; and
  • Apprentices receive paid work experience while pursuing a trade qualification.

“The Training Section awards scholarships based on Bermuda’s workforce needs, particularly in occupations of underrepresentation by Bermudians,” said Ms Foggo.

“Scholarships awarded to-date include forty-two [42] students for overseas studies, totaling three hundred eighty-five thousand [$385,000]; of which twenty-nine [29] were new and thirteen [13] are continuing students. Fifty-eight [58] students were awarded funding for Bermuda College studies, totaling one hundred seventy thousand [$170,000]; of which thirty-four [34] were new and twenty-four [24] were continuing awards.” 

She also noted that the Apprenticeship and Training Schemes are currently being expanded.

“To this aim they have begun engaging employers to better understand their needs and how to increase apprenticeship and training opportunities for Bermudians.

“As a result of collaborating with employers, five new companies have signed agreements with the Department to train Bermudians in the field of Medical Coding and Billing, Computer Programming, Plumbing, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration and Heavy Equipment Operators. Additionally, efforts to assist employers by providing support to train their existing Bermudian staff for career progress within their respective companies is also underway. The intent is to encourage career advancement and increased entry level opportunities for Bermudians.”

Currently, a total of one thousand four hundred fifty-two [1,452] persons are registered with the Department as either unemployed or seeking alternative employment.

“Of the total persons registered, three hundred sixty [360] received Career Development services during the five-month period, May to September 2018.

“These services were varied and comprised of interest and skill assessments, resume development, employability training workshops, job search assistance, career guidance and case management towards job readiness. However, after receiving these services, only fifty [50] individuals actually provided feedback of their success in finding employment in areas such as compliance, hospitality, construction and cleaning,” the Minister said.

“There has been significant follow-up with persons who attended the event in the west; assisting them with creating profiles on the Bermuda Job Board and arranging to meet further with staff to help them reach their career goals.

“Three more events of this nature are planned across the island between January and March 2019, taking the Department’s services to the community.

“This will allow the Department to capture details on persons who are unemployed but who would not ordinarily come into the Department to receive services. It is also an opportunity to increase awareness about the Department’s services and empower individuals and equip them with strategies to obtain their employment and career goals.”

As per Bermuda’s 2015 Work Permit Policy she added: “The Career Development Section received requests for referrals relating to two hundred eighty-five [285] positions which were Restricted Jobs since May 2018.

“There were one hundred seventy-four [174] suitable candidates referred and sixty-two [62] hires during the same period.

“Currently, the referral process for Restricted Jobs is executed manually. In an effort to increase efficiency and shift to a paperless work environment, the Department plans to adopt a fully electronic referral system by December 2018, utilizing the Bermuda Job Board.”

She noted that there are presently 14,137 job applicants registered on the Bermuda Job Board, 2,053 employers and 225 jobs posted.

Since March 2016, she said there have been 2,204 hires through the Job Board, consisting of 962 in 2016; 739 in 2017 and 503 in 2018 to date.

Since May 2018, she said: “Only 59 persons participated in specialized workshops such as interview skills, resume development, and self-presentation skills.

“The low attendance is primarily attributed to ‘no shows’ and low registration,” said Ms Foggo.

“Recognizing the importance of marketable work skills, employers and human resource professionals have consistently indicated the need for applicants to develop and strengthen their soft skills and life skills.

“These are critical characteristics needed for employee hiring and retention in the workplace apart from the requisite technical skills. As such, the Career Development Section plans to expand its offerings of employability skills training to include online and evening courses in community clubs, churches and schools.”

In that regard, she said: The Department is presently working on a public relations campaign to increase awareness of the Department’s services and the advantages of being registered as a client.

“It is the intent to continue to collaborate with the Department of Communications to develop a marketing strategy that will support and drive the work of the Department.

“This strategy will focus on greater visibility and engagement with employers and the community through outreach, satellite training, increased education and awareness, career fairs, town hall meetings and social media campaigns,” Ms Foggo added.

“A Marketing Strategy will be completed in December 2018 for immediate implementation. Much of this work is aligned with the National Workforce Development Plan which the Department intends to progress further as we continue to improve internal processes.”

Moving forward, she said the department will “continue to assist and prepare persons for the world of work”.

The Minister concluded: “The public relations strategy will support and drive the initiatives being undertaken by the Department.”