Labour to enforce mandatory training policy for work permits

Labour to enforce mandatory training policy for work permits
Labour Director, John Pinder.

Pinder: Employers requesting work permits will be required to show training programs effective Jan 2020

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Employers requesting work permits will have to provide evidence to the Department of Labour of their training programs for Bahamians to accede to the respective positions, according to Director of Labour John Pinder.

In an interview with Eyewitness News Online, Pinder said: “We will now make it mandatory for the employer who is applying for a labour certificate to have understudies named.

“We are going to start that process effective January to start asking the employer to provide us the understudy program, so that we can monitor it to ensure that the understudy gains the necessary training to fill the position of the person on the work permit.”

Asked if the department was in the process of reviewing employers’ training programs where significant work permits are held, the director said a section called ‘special projects’ has been established.

“Their job is to monitor those kinds of things,” Pinder said.

“We now have a special project section that will monitor things like that. They have the right to do inspections. A part of their inspections will now be to interview the understudy person to determine if they’re getting the necessary training as laid out by the employer for them to get sufficient training to fill the job on the person on work permit.”

Pinder noted that the department has not required employers to specifically outline their training programs in the past.

He suggested he expects some initial resistance.

“If we meet resistance with people not wanting to supply that then we will cause there to be some amendment in the law to make that a law that they must do it,” Pinder said.

“For now it will only be a policy that we establish.

“We will start to do that so that at least by the first quarter  — we have to give them so time to fashion the training program — and hopefully by March… if they haven’t fashioned one already, they will have to fashion one by then.”

In March, Pinder told Eyewitness News Online he expects the regulations of the Employment Act to be expanded to give the department greater jurisdiction relating to training, apprenticeship programs.

For example, in the heads of agreement between the government and the Wynn Group for a $120 million condo-hotel and residences development, the developer agreed to a training and apprenticeship program for employees that is expected to be rolled-out in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and BTVI.

The ongoing project is estimated to provide 350 construction jobs and more than 150 permanent ones.

Baha Mar also has an apprenticeship component in its heads of agreement.

Rosewood at Baha Mar has an international apprenticeship program that trains in conjunction with the Baha Mar Academy, the entity primarily responsible for training and recruitment of the resort’s employees.

An apprenticeship program is also included in the heads of agreement with Oban Energies for the construction of a $4 billion oil refinery and $1.5 billion liquid bulk facility in East End, Grand Bahama.

The agreement calls for Oban to establish a multi-disciplinary on-the-job technical skills training apprenticeship program designed to equip its Bahamian employees with “the level of technical proficiency reasonably necessary for promotion and advancement”.

That agreement, signed in February 2018, is being renegotiated to better benefit Bahamians, according to the government.