Labour Minister Shane Gibson has admitted that his ministry failed to properly monitor companies hiring foreign workers to ensure that they were training Bahamian understudies to assume those positions.
But, he said that is about to end.
For years Bahamians have complained that hotels and offshore banks structured their job advertisements in such a way that Bahamians would not ordinarily qualify for the jobs.
In the case of offshore banking, even though they want to identify who they want to bring in before applying for the labour certificate and they would have crafted it [the job ad] in a way to make sure their person is given favourable consideration there are still instances when we are able to identify locals and say ‘look, even though you have identified that person we have this person right now who can fill that position’ and if we are able to identify those individuals we will not give that labour certificate no matter what they ask for,” he said during a recent news conference.
“Secondly, what we do is we also make sure that in cases where there is not a Bahamian qualified or able to fill the position then we have them identify an understudy and say to them, ‘ok, within a year, two, three or four-year period we expect that the understudy will be ready and able to take over this position.”
He continued, “This will be monitored even more vigorously now. In the past . . . we would say it, but nobody would actually follow through. But, now we are actually putting the mechanism in place to make sure that we follow through straight to the end so [that] once they come back for a renewal we’re able to get a progress report to say exactly where they are in terms of the understudy being ready to assume the position.”
Minister Gibson said he believes that 100 per cent of the companies and individuals who apply for labour certificates already know who they want to hire.
“That’s why they apply for a labour certificate, to hire somebody,” he said.
“In the case of offshore banking, they may have what is called a client relationship manager where they have relationships with high end clients all over the world where they help to bring the business. So, even though they may advertise locally to satisfy our labour laws they know who it is that they want to bring. If they were to hire a Bahamian without that same type of exposure or connection to high end clients then they would be defeating the purpose of having that position here in The Bahamas.”