By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Ministry of Labour will analyse the skills gap issue by hosting a National Skills Symposium, an event where 100 representatives from a wide-range of sectors will create a report on the issue.
The event, "Forging our Future -- Assessing and Analysing the Skills Gap in The Bahamas", is invitation-only and will be held on Monday at the National Training Agency, at 9am.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis will open the symposium. During a press conference yesterday to announce the event, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes noted Dr Minnis said: "The prime minister is very adamant about the mission that we have embarked upon. He is very concerned about the amount of work permits and labour certificates that we still issue for persons to work in The Bahamas. And there's no sense having a very active business community, there's no sense having a lot of business investments, if Bahamians are not qualified to take advantage of the jobs.
"And that is what this is all about. We want to make sure that the curricula in our educational institutions, at the technical level, at the tertiary level, and at the high school level; that they're relevant to the demands of the current job market.
"And that is what this symposium is all about. To do an analysis of that and to make recommendations through me to the Cabinet as to what we should do as a country going forward."
The symposium is an initiative of the ministry's National Committee for Industry and Skills Development in conjunction with partners. The committee was formed by Cabinet four months ago and is chaired by Carlton Neymour.
"The Ministry of Labour considers the skills gap as a national priority," Mr Foulkes said. "The longstanding negative impact of the disparity between employer needs and the available workforce has critically limited the growth of the private sector and subsequently the economic development of our nation."
He added the government believes reducing the skills gap in The Bahamas can provide a "critical" step towards expanding the private sector, improving the ease of doing business, growing the gross domestic product, and increasing employment.
Robert Farquharson, executive manager in the Department of Labour, said the primary sectors the symposium will address are maritime, hospitality, manufacturing, financial services, health and allied services, and the construction industry.
Mr Farquharson noted based on the recommendations this symposium produces, educational institutions "will be able to adjust their programmes" to ensure they are providing the certifications and competencies needed for Bahamians to fulfil the identified skills gap.
Committee deputy co-chair Matt Aubry added the symposium provides the opportunity for "coordination and collaboration".
He also said the identified sectors were selected "in anticipation" of an upcoming job skills project that's "about to be launched" in conjunction with the Inter-American Development Bank.
Mr Aubry said the committee tried to be as "expansive as possible" but recommended that any key leaders or key technical and vocational groups that haven't been contacted should reach out to the ministry through Mr Farquharson.