NASSAU, BAHAMAS —The skills gap in the country continues to widen, and this year Labour Director Robert Farquharson said that the number of labour certificates to employ foreign workers surpassed 13,000.
“From September 1st of last year to August 21st of this year, we had over 13,000 applications for labour certificates, now a large amount of them were in the domestic field but a significant amount of them were in professional; so we have these non-Bahamians who are issued work permits because we don’t have the skills of qualified Bahamians to fill these jobs.”
Farquharson said that one of the main issues that have been identified as significantly impacting the skills gap is the brain drain, with many young Bahamian professionals opting for lucrative jobs abroad.
“Bahamans have to compete anywhere they go, what does that mean for the skills gap here in our country?” he said.
“It is a skills gap, so we have to find ways to convince these young people to come on or convince these young persons to work for the departments where they live.”
In today’s world, Farquharson said employers should consider being more creative and innovative about employment and recruitment, especially as society emerges out of the pandemic where many people had the option of working remotely.
“You can do the job in the field of IT from any place in the world you can work for a Bahamian company from any place in the world, we have to create the mechanisms in our respective agencies to have it done,” he said.
“The skills gap in the Bahamas is real, we in the Department of Labour are working feverishly with arm industry partners to find a way to breach that gap we have right now.”
IT Specialists, medical practitioners, financial service workers, welders, plumbers, and carpenters are some of the many jobs that are in high demand for certified Bahamians, according to the Labour Director.
“We want to encourage those young men and women who are considering tertiary level education, just think about these various jobs that are available to become certified,” Farquharson said.
“You don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree to be a certified welder but I guarantee you if you are a certified welder in this country you will never run out of work.
“Certified welders and they make about $35 an hour so a 48-hour work week you’re talking about a good amount of money that you could live comfortably on and if you become certified.”
He added that through the Immigration Department the number of work permits that are issued is even greater than what is seen in the Labour department.
“The Department of Immigration issue 30,000 work permits each year that’s a lot of non-Bahamians who are required to work in our country.
“If we have a mechanism through the BTVI through the University of The Bahamas to develop the skills that can fill these positions with Bahamians certified and trained Bahamians, that means our economy grows because the money is they would have paid stays here in The Bahamas.”