A helping hand

Minister of Labour Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo

Barbadians will soon be getting a helping hand from government in finding jobs at home.

Minister of Labour Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo told Barbados TODAY, that given the recent surge in the demand on its National Employment Bureau for local jobs, she was looking at expanding the agency from one where it focused on finding employment overseas, to advising on, and directing people to job opportunities in Barbados.

The Minister of Labour has been touring the booths of micro, small and medium sized businesses set up at the current forum on micro-financing at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, in search of employment opportunities.

“(Because) as folks come to the Ministry of Labour; you know, ours is not a role of creating jobs, but about advising about jobs and positioning people in jobs. But increasingly, …it’s becoming more and more about directing people about how they could do their own thing,” she pointed out.

“It’s not everybody who may want to cut cane,” stated the government minister, “not everybody wants to work in a restaurant or pick apples. More and more it’s becoming about self actualisation. What is it that you really want to do. What you feel you were made to do, and how can we make that into a viable alternative for you to creative wealth and to create a living for you and your family? And so, we find that we have to advise people then on how they can go about establishing their own thing, where is the finance coming from?”.

She observed that if a lot of people who had a product or service to sell, knew that funding was available and accessible, they might apply for the funding and make a living.

“So many of our poor folk, especially the poor black folk coming from the rural communities, they feel that they don’t have any chance at all to accessing any of that finance. We have some success stories here in Barbados through Fund Access, through the Barbados Youth Business Trust, and so on, and it is to be able to sensitise Barbadians about those opportunities and for those funds to be able to generate more activity, so that more and more Barbadians can access them; and that what our Ministry of Labour and our various agencies (should do),” she said.

The Minister noted she wanted the Employment Bureau therefore to review its role in this area.

“I have been working with the Employment Bureau, and we have had a specialist come in recently, Dr. Hensley Sobers, and we are also now setting about to do a consultancy with the Employment Bureau to see how we can expand the services of the Employment Bureau, so that they are not just mainly an external employment agency, and an agency that the National Insurance sends you to when you are unemployed, because you know you have to sign up; that it’s not just about that,” Byer-Suckoo said.

She disclosed that instead, the intention was now to restructure the NEB into a bona fide employment agency for local as well as external employment and career counselling.

The Minister explained that there was a time when the Bureau conducted such counselling in schools and there was still a need for it.

“The guidance counsellors in schools don’t take the place of that kind of career counselling and so I’m looking at revisting that career counselling mode, especially now too that we have the retraining fund; you know, you go to National Insurance, you register as unemployed, you come in, you’re supposed to take up this money that is available in the retraining fund.

However, she suggested that an important part of that was career counselling, adding that it was only when one was exposed to these kinds of opportunities, that government would be in a better position to counsel persons in their careers. (EJ)

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