BCCEC seeks collaboration with government on brain drain reversal strategy

BCCEC seeks collaboration with government on brain drain reversal strategy
Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers' Confederation (BCCEC) Chairperson Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Government and the private sector must come to the table to develop a reverse brain drain strategy, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) chair urged yesterday.

“We know that this is an issue. We also know that there are countries around the world, even within the region, that have implemented a reverse brain drain strategy,” Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson commented. “I agree it is not solely a government issue or private sector issue.”

Rutherford-Ferguson made the remarks while speaking at the BCCEC Power Breakfast yesterday on the challenge the country faces in retaining those who are educated and highly skilled within the local workforce.

Labor and Immigration Minister Keith Bell concurred, noting that better salaries and benefits are one of the primary reasons why many are choosing job opportunities abroad.

Bell noted that there is a significant skills gap in the country during his presentation, an issue that the National Apprenticeship Bill seeks to address.

“We have 65,000 students in our high schools. Each year we graduate 5,000 students. Each year students coming out of high school are ill-equipped for the job market in terms of soft skills, job training and readiness,” said Bell, while recommending that the various training programs in the country be amalgamated to reduce duplication of efforts.

The Apprenticeship Act—passed some 40 years ago in 1983— is hoped to not only boost job prospects for Bahamians between the ages of 18-40, but also improve workforce productivity.

Bell stressed that the National Apprenticeship Program must have the buy-in from the private sector and not be undermined.