Minister of Labour, Jason Hayward, stated today that 10 percent, or one out of every ten Bermudians are unemployed.

Speaking on the latest Labour Force Survey Report for November 2020, which covers the period from May 2019 to November the following year, he said the jobless rate for Bermudians was 9.6 percent.

The overall unemployment rate for that period was listed at 7.9 percent, or 2,891 people.

Outlining Phase 2 of the Government’s Natioal Re-employment Strategic Plan, he said: “The Ministry of Labour has established policies and initiatives that will foster the expansion of jobs and economic growth.

“We will build on the progress made focusing on training, reskilling, upskilling and utilising the transferable skills of unemployed Bermudians.”
 
He was joined by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Wayne Furbert, who noted that “last year was a particularly difficult year”, with “many businesses, employers and employees”, who were impacted negatively by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
 
“The unemployment rate increased, which was mainly impacted by the hospitality industry,” said Mr Furbert.
 
In fact, the island’s overall unemployment rate has been trending downwards since 2014 and increased slightly for a brief period between November 2018 and May 2019.

Minister Hayward also outlined several initiatives to be developed during Phase 2 of the re-employment strategy and the Economic Stimulus Jobs initiative.

He noted that the joint initiative with the Department of Works and Engineering has attracted nine companies that have expressed an interest in employing Bermudians as apprentices, trainees and trades people.

The goal, he said, is to provide 20 jobs to people who are unemployed.

Meanwhile, the department will continue to build partnerships with industry and HR professionals moving forward, “to broaden the range of on the on-the-job training, internships, virtual learning webinars and online career development and training programmes”.

“The department plans to expand its current vocational and technical programmes to include new short and long-term certificate programmes to increase employment opportunities for on the job internships and experience for unskilled and semi-skilled Bermudians,” he added.

“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 businesses.”

The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce has also agreed to set up a sub-committee to develop re-employment strategies with the Ministry.

Mr Hayward also stated that the Government would look to revise the policy regarding the moratorium on work permits for certain job categories by the end of July.

But he would not specify which categories were being considered, saying: “At this stage there has been no firm commitment to open up any closed or restricted job categories.”

Highlights of Minister Furbert’s full statement:

Last year was a particularly difficult year, where many businesses, employers and employees were affected by the challenges in our economy and labour market due to the pandemic.

So it’s important to understand and appreciate the context and background as we review and assess these statistics.

As it stands key highlights from the November 2020 Labour Force Survey Report are as follows:

  • 1. The labour force stood at 36,387 persons
  • 2. The working population reached 33,496 persons
  • 3. Among the working population 4,977 persons were underemployed
  • 4. The employment rate was 75.6%
  • 5. The average hours worked per week was 40.2
  • 6. The number of unemployed persons stood at 2,891
  • 7. The unemployment rate was 7.9%
  • 8. The unemployment rate for Bermudians was 9.6%
  • 9. The economically inactive population was 17,864 persons

As a note, there has been a downward trend in the unemployment rate since 2014

Lastly, I wish to stress that this Government remains committed to investing in our people, encouraging small business development and growing our economy, despite the challenges that we face.

In closing, I want to say ‘thank you’ to all those who took part and completed the survey when contacted by interviewers.

The 2020 labour force survey can be downloaded from www.gov.bm, and the public is advised to read the technical note and the concepts and definitions on pages three through six prior to reviewing the data.

Highlights of Minister Hayward’s full statement:

It is evidently clear that prior to the pandemic Bermuda’s labour market was trending in a positive direction, with an increase in jobs and a decline in unemployment. However, the Labour force Survey results provide a clear indication of the current challenges within our workforce. The Ministry of Labour is responding by implementing effective policy solutions that address the unanticipated social and economic challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ministry has established policies and initiatives that will foster the expansion of jobs and economic growth.

The public is aware of the National Reemployment Strategic Plan, which is a part of the Government’s mandate to address the number of Bermudians finding themselves unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In September 2020, I pledged to the people of Bermuda that we would do all that we can to provide education, training, career development and employment opportunities to prepare Bermudians to re-enter the workforce as we move beyond the pandemic.

As highlighted in the House of Assembly, significant progress has been made as a result of Phase 1 of this strategy.
As of June 18th:

  • Thirteen (13) new training, career development and employment programmes were 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 due to 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).

Phase 2

As we now look to the future and aim to further increase employment numbers, Phase 2 of the National Reemployment Strategic Plan will build upon the progress made, focusing on training, reskilling, up-scaling and utilizing the transferable skills of unemployed Bermudians. This strategy has proven to be successful thus far. It will continue helping unemployed Bermudians become better equipped to take advantage of opportunities that exist in specific restricted and closed categories in the job market. This industry-driven initiative will put even more focus on connecting training with employment opportunities in high demand occupations required now and into the future.

The following initiatives are currently in place:

  • 1 Economic Stimulus Programme Jobs Initiative – This joint initiative with the Department of Works and Engineering has Nine [9] companies expressing their interest in employing Bermudians as apprentices, trainees, and experienced tradespersons. The objective is to provide twenty [20] job opportunities to unemployed individuals.
  • 2 Industry-Driven Network Partnerships – The Department of Workforce Development will continue to forge partnerships with industry and HR professionals to broaden the range of on-the-job training, internships, virtual learning webinars and online career development and training programmes.
  • 3 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 with on-the-job internships and experience for unskilled and semi-skilled Bermudians.
  • 4 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 businesses. To that end, I am happy to announce that recently, the Chamber of Commerce agreed to form a Sub-Committee to work directly with the Ministry on 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:

  • 1 It will assess all candidates;
  • 2 It will refer suitable candidates to employers for potential employment opportunities; and
  • 3 It will provide the support needed to assist candidates in achieving their employment goals, including résumé development, interview skills, and coaching in other areas.

The Government remains committed to preparing Bermudians for job opportunities and connecting them with employers where possible.

The Government will continue to take timely and decisive action to restore consumer and business confidence, to stimulate our economy, which in turn will create a clear path to growth and employment. A robust economy with an increase in jobs, is a vital component to getting Bermudians back to work. To that end, the Ministry continue its work toward implementing it policy objectives in alignment with the National Economic Recovery plan.