By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
One out of every four Bahamian job seekers lacks the necessary “behavioural skills” suitable for the workplace, an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report has revealed.
Documents released as part of the newly-launched $20 million Citizen Security and Justice initiative disclose that Bahamian employers find almost a quarter of job seekers lack the necessary workplace attitudes and socialisation.
Drawing on a 2012 survey of 505 Bahamian employers, the IDB found that 24 per cent of job seekers on New Providence, and 25 per cent on Grand Bahama, lacked the necessary “behavioural skills” to make them employable.
These skills likely include dress, attitudes, arriving to work on time and the ability to interact properly with both colleagues and customers. Effectively, the survey findings suggest that Bahamian societies, families and the education system are failing to equip 25 per cent of the population with the ‘basics’ necessary to make them employable.
The IDB documents added that the 2012 survey also found that 13 per cent of job seekers on New Providence, and 26 per cent in Grand Bahama, lacked the numeracy skills demanded by employers.
The findings show the urgent need for the $20 million IDB initiative, some $4.08 million of which is targeted at “increasing employability and employment among at-risk youth” aged between 15 to 29 years-old in New Providence.
Tribune Business revealed last week how an IDB report estimated there were almost 11,000 jobless persons within this age category on New Providence, of whom 13 per cent - some 1,300 persons - had given up looking for work.
The Citizen Security and Justice initiative is designed to make 1,000 of these persons more employable, “focusing on the development of soft skills (responsibility, degree of commitment, teamwork-building, persistence and self-control)”, plus providing remedial literacy and numeracy skills and training through community development projects.
A further 1,600 will be placed on a ‘training for employment’ programme, which will involve “comprehensive demand-driven training for employment with special emphasis in the hospitality and retail sectors”.
These industries, the IDB adds, were chosen due to their economic importance, with tourism accounting for 60 per cent of Bahamian gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 50 per cent of the workforce.
Finally, the IDB project aims to build capacity at the Government’s Skills Bank and Employment Exchange, aided by staff training and the “engagement of employers”.
Tribune Business revealed on Friday how ineffective these agencies are, the IDB report finding that they referred just 9 per cent of job seekers to existing employment vacancies, and placed “less than 2 per cent” of unemployed Bahamians who are actively seeking work.
The IDB project’s goals are by 2017 to have 35 per cent of 15-29 year-olds, who graduate from the ‘employability’ programme, obtain a job within three months. This percentage is to rise to 40 per cent by 2019.
It also wants 35 per cent of ‘employability’ graduates to move on to the ‘employment training’ programme by 2017, with job placement by the Employment Exchange increasing from just 2 per cent of jobless Bahamians to 15 per cent in 2017, and 18 per cent by 2020.
The IDB estimated that the total project will generate $138 million worth of economic benefits, with a present value of $63 million.
The IDB documents also provided another reminder of how important the $3.5 billion Baha Mar project is to Bahamian GDP and employment prospects.
“Over a 20-year period, Baha Mar is expected to generate $12 billion in additional employment income through direct and indirect impacts, or more than $33,000 per capita,” the IDB said.
“Baha Mar is expected to support an average employment count of nearly 12,000 jobs on a full-time equivalent basis, through direct and indirect impacts, which calls for the importance of training youth so they can gain the necessary skills to take advantage of this important economic opportunity.”