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had previously acknowledged the department’s mechanism for tracking persons who had secured employment was “old and outdated”, noting there are more than 68,000 job seekers registered in the Department of Labour’s database, representing persons who would have signed on over the past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