Labour Exchange Revamp Ensures Bahamians Put First


Tribune Business Reporter


Labour Director Robert Farquharson said yesterday he expects his department to ‘more vigorously’ enforce the country’s work permit policy with the introduction of a revamped Employment Exchange set to officially launch at the end of this month.

“We now have the capacity to better respond to the needs of the public. When it comes to applications for work permits we depend solely on the information in our database,” Mr Farquharson told Tribune Business.

“Many professionals have been reluctant to come in and personally register with the Employment Exchange but with our new system they will be able to register online.”

Mr Farquharson said the Labour Department expects to see a significant increase in the Exchange’s database registrations which will now allow the department to more effectively match qualified Bahamians with available positions.

“We expect to be able to more vigorously enforce the policy that no labour certificate will be issued to non-Bahamians when we have identified Bahamians qualified for the position,” said Mr Farquharson, adding the new system would be able to identify how qualified a person is for a given position.

He believes the revamped system will be of particular benefit to the country’s major employers such as Atlantis and Baha Mar as it comes more on stream.

The Exchange revamp falls under a $20 million initiative by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to overhaul the Bahamas’ job training and recruitment systems.

The IDB has noted the Department of Labour’s ‘placement’ success rate was exceptionally low compared with the regional average. While the Bahamas was able to find work for one out of every 50 registrants, the Latin American and Caribbean average for similar employment exchanges was a placement rate slightly greater than one in every four applicants. The IDB had also revealed the Department of Labour was catching job vacancies from just 12 per cent of listed Bahamian businesses, adding this ratio paled when compared with the 20-40 per cent of companies captured by European Employment Exchanges “at a similar stage of development”.

The Labour Director had previously acknowledged the department’s mechanism for tracking persons who had secured employment was “old and outdated”, noting there are more than 68,000 job seekers registered in the Department of Labour’s database, representing persons who would have signed on over the past 10 years.

Mr Farquharson said yesterday that while the new system is now in place, he expects an official launch around the end of the month, along with the launch of a ‘one stop shop’ facility at each of the Department’s three New Providence locations. Those outlets at Rosetta Street, Carmichael Road and Robinson Road would offer assistance to job seekers such as advice on how to prepare their resumes as well as how to prepare for job interviews.


banker 2 years, 3 months ago

Sigh ... it's policies like this that retard the economic growth of the Bahamas. Work permits for professionals in all areas of endeavours should be given out like candy. The Bahamas is so parochial, both in its legislation and its methodologies, that real progress in expanding the economy through innovation is a non-starter.

Take my own field -- banking. There is a worldwide revolution going on in the banking and financing sectors. It is combining technology with finance and the field is called Fintech. Fintech according to Investopedia is defined like this:

Fintech is a portmanteau of financial technology that describes an emerging financial services sector in the 21st century. Originally, the term applied to technology applied to the back-end of established consumer and trade financial institutions. Since the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the term has expanded to include any technological innovation in the financial sector, including innovations in financial literacy and education, retail banking, investment and even crypto-currencies like bitcoin.

I have recently moved from wealth management to the securities trading desk sector. Family Office managers want to trade portfolios on mobile devices, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and settle those trades the next day. Our banks have difficulty processing offshore settlement cheques within a week, if at all. In the meantime, the Bahamas Financial Services Board puts out bull excrement saying that we are a world class finance center. While they are flogging three year old brochures, Boston-based Fidelity Investments lets investors see digital currency in their holdings on their websites. The BFSB doesn't even know what digital is -- they think that it is the doctor's finger in a private body orifice.

Starting last Wednesday, most Fidelity clients will be able to authorize Coinbase, one of the largest crypto-currency exchanges in the United States, to provide the fund manager with data on their holdings.

We can't even find out if our cheque is cashed, or we can use the money. For Financial Services, we should flood the Bahamas with work permits to bring in subject matter experts to raise the bar and educate the Bahamian professionals.

In my own case, I had to re-educate myself, update my skills, including computer skills, learn a whole new vocabulary and way of operating, and I am ten years older than everyone else in the office, because I worked in the retrograde atmosphere of the Bahamas.

Every single professional endeavour in the Bahamas, could benefit from cross-pollination of the very latest in each field, garnered by giving out easy work permits. It would benefit us all. But these dinosaurs are stuck in the past. Their dogged barriers to enlightenment actually destroys Bahamian business value in these fast-moving times.


OldFort2012 2 years, 3 months ago

I have actually spoken to certain current Ministers about the very point you raise. They are in complete agreement with you. But there again, they also know their constituents. As you point out, they are parochial, uneducated and fear change. This is for internal consumption only.


TheMadHatter 2 years, 3 months ago

Bey you mussy tryin to cause dead people to stop gettin paycheck in Govt? Bess watch yaseff before dey takes away ya passport. LOL.


regrolli 2 years, 3 months ago

When are we going to understand that citizenship doesn't make anyone more or less qualified for a position? We should focus on making Bahamians the best person for the job, rather than mandating immigration status as a condition for employment. Protectionism and restrictive immigration policy breeds workforce mediocrity and will continue to handicap those it is meant to benefit. Without a liberal immigration policy there is no hope of attracting new and diversified industry which will provide greater opportunity for Bahamians and ultimately bring our talent home.


Chucky 2 years, 3 months ago

When will we ever admit that our problems stem from within, rather than abroad.

Our government can not determine who is the best suited, best qualified, or the best fit for any job. If a company wants to invest and set up here, they deserve the right to choose who they hire.

Clearly it's cheaper to hire a Bahamian , as housing and work permit fees etc are not required; so obviously if a company is hiring foreigners, they are doing so because overall it makes more sense. I.e. they employee will provide a net gain over local Bahamians; and more often than not, this will be as a result of better work ethic, better attitude, more reliable, with the same education they are more likely to be better at their job (real world experience, and not brought up with the Bahamian sense of entitlement).

I'm with Regrolli, we need to make our people the most attractive employees to hire, not make it a requirement to hire substandard people.

Sadly we're probably a generation away from creating the type of employees most companies really want, and that's if we start today.

And all you idiots that want to spew your "false Bahamian pride" (while you throw your kfc garbage out the window of your car) and contest this, you can just shut up, anyone with an honest view knows that the majority of our people are just plain lousy useless wastes of food.


baldbeardedbahamian 2 years, 3 months ago

business owners tend to be practical people. They are in business to make money not to make friends. Getting a work permit for an expatriate employee is a thoroughly unpleasant experience which costs time and money, not to mention the frustration of having to interact with the fiscal parasites employed at the Immigration Department. The only reason to hire a non-Bahamian is that he or she is so much more productive or honest or skilled that it is worth going through all the trouble, Revamping the labour Exchange will not change the low quality work ethic and sense of entitlement that pervades the labour force in the Bahamas.


The_Oracle 2 years, 3 months ago

Foreigners? How about "enticing" all those Bahamians who have left over the last 60 years to come back? I'm told in the tens of thousands. Those who have made their millions and continue to do so, unlike those here who sit on piles of money with little initiative to do anything but covet and guard it. Even the politicians and civil servants who have stolen their wealth can only do what they have been taught by example: amass it, hoard it, guard it. That they should invest it in (God Forbid) their own country runs counter to all they stand for!
Those with their Masters, those at the top of their games internationally. Those who make decisions daily without fear of stepping on political toes or the establishment that presides over the decay. Those who would love to come home, get involved, invest, if it weren't for getting crapped on instantly should they return! The fear of them is real enough. No, the local game is control, status quo, xenophobia, racism, and any other fictitious rationale for stagnation. The resources expended by both Government and the Private sector to keep things as they are is staggering!


banker 2 years, 3 months ago

We as Bahamians have become so inured to mediocrity and a toxic way of life , that it has become the norm. As a transplant to a new city, it is constantly amazing to me, to see a different way of living. There are no unsafe spots late at night. An internet problem is fixed by a technician coming the next morning at 8:30 AM. The supermarkets are clean, and I am amazed at the reasonable prices and high quality of foodstuffs. There are no power blackouts. The streets are alive with people, legal vendors like food trucks, buskers and a panoply of intriguing and interesting shops and markets. The cars are in good repair. The streets are clean. Garbage is picked up. There is no dump fire smoke. Everything works. My neighbour paid me a courtesy visit after noticing that I moved in and asked me to notify her if her dog disturbs me.

The path out of mediocrity for the Bahamas, is to start doing the small things right from the bottom up, and start doing the big things right from the top down. Shutting down our borders to hardworking, smart and/or professional people is not the way to advance the country. My own work permit was approved in a week -- 5 business days, even though they told me that it would take two whole weeks. There needs to be a whole attitude re-adjustment in the Bahamas, and news like this, shows that it een happening.


Economist 2 years, 3 months ago

This will only reinforce mediocrity and greater unemployment.

Has no one in government learned that this policy is a recipe for our economy to continue to stagnate?


BMW 2 years, 3 months ago

There is no way on Gods green earth that Bahamians only can build this country! We must get over the fear of an open immigration policy. Look at many countries around the world..... Just open your eyes for Christ Sake. Countries that restrict immigration end up like venezuala or cuba. Labor exchange does not need to be revamped our thinking does!


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