By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Director of Labour yesterday acknowledged the need for greater "transparency" that ensures Bahamians are given an opportunity to fill posts before employers seek work permits.
John Pinder, pictured, the former trade union leader, told Tribune Business: "What we do is, when work permit applications come to us, we check our skills bank to see if Bahamians are qualified to do these jobs and we encourage the employer to interview Bahamians.
"We also encourage Bahamians to go on these interviews. What I think is missing is the transparency to ensure that the employer advertising the position is giving Bahamians an opportunity to fill them. We have to tighten that up. They would say they advertise and no Bahamian applied. We don't have the mechanism to determine whether any Bahamian applied for not."
Mr Pinder added that the Minnis administration's "Labour on the Blocks" initiative has so far resulted in 8,500 persons registering with the labour department.
"From where I sit, there are too many jobs Bahamians ought to be trained to do which are being filled by persons on work permits," he said. "I believe that if we do a better job with the vocational initiatives as it relates to them putting on certain courses and disciplines, Bahamians I am sure have the ability to qualify themselves.
"Many may not know what opportunities are out there. I keep reminding workers that it isn't business as usual because technology is the biggest challenge we are faced with."
Mr Pinder said he intends to have discussions with employers, who employ persons in positions such handymen, to argue for more attractive wages for Bahamians. "There are lot of jobs out there for handymen. Bahamians have also really qualified themselves in landscaping, but we have to see if we can cause the employers to provide a better salary," he added.
"I intend to have discussions with employers, especially large employers who have a number of these so-called handymen, to show them that if you're going to pay for a work permit and, in some instances, a housing allowance etc, you could increase that salary to attract a Bahamian and save money for your company."