Chairman of the new Workforce Development Plan Working Group, Senator Jason Hayward has issued an appeal to the island’s business community to get on board “to find new ways to reach unemployed and underemployed” Bermudians.

Speaking at a news conference convened by the Minister of Education and Workforce Development, Diallo Rabain, to announce the group’s formation last week.

The Progressive Labour Party Senator said members of Bermuda’s business community will be asked to participate in building “a pipeline from early education through post-secondary to give our young people exposure to emerging industries and new career opportunities”. 

“The Workforce Development Plan cannot be successful without the involvement of business and industry at all levels,” said Senator Hayward.

“Through a series of consultations meetings, employers, entrepreneurs and business organizations will be asked to contribute their ideas to improve the workforce development system in Bermuda.

He noted that Bermuda experienced a 17 percent drop in the number of jobs between 2008 to 2016.

“Unemployment was at 7 percent in 2015, up from 2.1 percent in 2004. The highest unemployment is among young people between the ages of 16 and 34. The public sector, the largest employer of Bermudians has cut its workforce by 12 percent since 2010,” he said.

“We need to find new ways to reach unemployed and underemployed workers and will look at using technology and other means to respond rapidly to the needs of all Bermudians.

“Our plan will seek to offer not a hand-out, but a hand-up to improve the economic stability of our people.

“We know that Bermuda is facing an ageing workforce, and a declining birthrate. We see many of our young people leaving to take off-island jobs.

“We need to develop a plan that will unlock job opportunities here in Bermuda; jobs that lead to fulfilling careers with a future.

“Many well-paying jobs are going unfilled, or are not being filled by Bermudians because of the perception that they are low-skilled and/or low-wage. Many of these jobs do not require a college degree, but do require post-secondary training. 

“Employing our youth is critical to success,” said Senator Hayward.

He also noted that the Department of Workforce Development will partner with Valarie Palamountain, to assist with the development of the plan moving forward.

She was invited by the department “through the Fulbright Program – the US government’s flagship academic exchange program… who’s Officers participated in an earlier professional that was sponsored by the US Consulate.

With over 20 years in project management, Senator Hayward said: “Ms Palamountain has implemented workforce development systems associated with economic development and educational programming standards.

Minister Rabain said: “The remit of this initiative is to lay the foundation of a 21st Century Workforce Development System in Bermuda.

“It is important to have a National Workforce System in which the primary aim is to connect people with jobs. It is within this context that a comprehensive Workforce Development Plan is critical for the advancement of Bermuda’s workforce,” added.

The development of a National Workforce Plan will allow the Government to:

  • Set Directions & Priorities
  • Ensure key stakeholders are on the same page
  • Simplify decision-making
  • Align essential resources
  • Communicate key messages

The Workforce Development Plan Working Group is a non-statutory committee that will consist of the following members:

  • Chairman – Senator Jason Hayward, Junior Minister of Education & Workforce Development
  • George Outerbridge, Director, Department of Workforce Development
  • Pandora Glasford, Training Manager, Department of Workforce Development
  • Judy Tert, Acting Career Development Manager, Department of Workforce Development
  • Tawana Flood, Director, Division of Professional & Career Education, Bermuda College
  • Tammy Richardson, Dean, Division of Arts & Sciences, Bermuda College
  • Dr Trescot Wilson, Dean, Division of Business, Hospitality & Technical Education, Bermuda College
  • Dr Radell Tankard, Acting Assistant Director Senior Schools, Department of Education
  • Levar Bassett, Career Pathways Facilitator, Department of Education

Minister Rabain noted that the Throne Speech initiative to develop a National Workforce Development Plan  will “ensure that Bermudians are properly prepared to take advantage of both current and future job opportunities”.

“The Government believes that upgrading the skills of Bermuda’s labour force through a solid workforce development plan is critical to our long-term prospect for broad-based and inclusive economic growth. It’s not enough just to create more jobs; Bermudians must be given a fair shot at the jobs that already exist today,” he said.

“Opportunities to prepare Bermudians with skills to enter the job market are a key step in ensuring that our people are employed. The National Workforce Development Plan will set the framework so Bermudians are equipped for the world of work.

Senator Hayward, the newly appointed Chairman noted that the Ministry has identified six (6) Strategic Priority areas that will improve Bermuda’s workforce development system:

  1. Employer & Industry Engagement
  2. Alignment of the Workforce Development System
  3. Creation of Career Pathways
  4. Development of Youth Workforce Programmes
  5. Universal Access to Education, Training & Career Services
  6. Government Resources & Funding

The strategic priorities were constructed to be intentionally broad to encompass the scope of the workforce issues in Bermuda. Not only with the Working Group consider today’s problems, but will also build a plan for the future. This can only be done if we align all our workforce resources into a comprehensive plan.

The primary functions of the Workforce Development Plan Working Group will be to:

  • Review the Strategic Priorities identified by the Ministry and develop operational and implementation plans that are aligned to the Strategic Priorities
  • Assess the current workforce development system and recommend ways to reduce duplication of services and improve efficiencies in the system
  • Make recommendations for legislative changes pertaining to the creation of a Workforce Development Board
  • Prepare a report for submission to the Minister of Education and Workforce Development