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Efforts on to fill skills gaps

Officials to take closer look at immigration department

In an attempt to get employers to fill vacant job positions with local talent, officials will soon be carrying out an examination of the Immigration Department to see what the trends are when it comes to imported skills.

 At the same time, officials are reporting that local employers across a number of industries are hesitant to provide them with information regarding the types of skills they immediately require and those they may need over the next five years.

The disclosure was made today at a media conference at the Baobab Tower where authorities gave an update on the progress of the implementation of the pillars of the Barbados Human Resource Development Strategy (HRDS).

They say the move forms a part of a skills needs assessment programme that is being carried out by the Ministry of Labour in association with various stakeholders. It is designed to, among other things, identify from employers the skills they require for particular jobs so as to work closer with training institutions to provide the requisite training.

This comes as the island continues to be affected by increased unemployment.

Programme coordinator of the HRDS, Maureen Pollard, said based on discussions on Monday they felt it was necessary to “start to look at the Immigration Department and to see where the trends are in terms of the employment of overseas persons to fill posts”.

Although not going into details, Pollard said: “We have certain issues that have been raised as part of the Human Resource Development Strategy, we are now going to try to see how we could put them into specific projects. So obviously that is an area that we would want to consider because we have to get better information on where the skills gaps are. Obviously where we need to employ persons from outside of Barbados it implies there is a skills gap in that area. So we would want, as we continue to do more data collection and analysis, be able to collect information also from the Immigration Department.”

She said they would also be identifying new and emerging markets for which employers will require specific skills over the coming years, including areas such as renewable energy, creative arts, information technology and agriculture.

Meanwhile, Ricardo Norville, acting assistant chief research and planning officer in the Manpower Research Statistical Unit of the Ministry of Labour, said a lack of full corporation from employers across Barbados was making it difficult to collect the data required under the skills needs assessment exercise.

The industries and their sub-sectors being targeted now include hospitality and tourism, construction, financial service, cultural industries, retail and renewable energy.

Opting not to give details on what information was collected so far, Norville would only say “there is a dire need of skills needs and requirements at all different levels”.

“It is a very daunting task because it require obtaining information from the private sector out there. It is very hard. One of the reasons they have to understand is that for us to help them they have to help us. That is difficult because most people are scared to give information,” said Norville.

He said getting the information from employers would not only help them to help learning institutions provide the right type of training needed to fill the skills deficit, but it would also assist the ministry with policy making.


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