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Govt seeks to iron out ‘misunderstandings’ with GB industrial sector

GB minister calls for further training of Bahamians
  • Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell participate in an “Industrial Sector Stakeholders Forum” at the Pelican Bay Resort, Grand Bahama on October 10. From left are Melvin Seymour, permanent secretary, Ministry for Grand Bahama; Barry Malcolm, president of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Darville and Mitchell. BIS/VANDYKE HEPBURN

Published: Oct 15, 2013

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The government has met with stakeholders in Grand Bahama’s industrial sector to “clarify misconceptions” surrounding government policy on the use of local labor and address concerns.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell and Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville held what was described by the government and the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce as a “successful meeting” with industry players on Grand Bahama on October 10.

Billed as the “Industrial Sector Stakeholders Forum”, the gathering took place at the Pelican Bay Resort and was very well attended, according to a government release.

In addition to Darville and Mitchell, senior officials in the Ministry for Labour and National Insurance, inclusive of Permanent Secretary Marco Rolle and Director of Labour Robert Farquharson, also took an active part in the forum.

President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce Barry Malcolm was also among the many persons terming the gathering successful.

Darville said the purpose of the meeting was to allow industry partners to have a frank discussion with the Departments of Immigration and Labour.

He said the Department of Immigration has implemented a number of new policies with the intention of putting the local workforce first.

“In order to do that we had to initiate some policies, and while initiating the policies we think there may have been a misunderstanding between the industrial sector and the government,” said Darville.

“This meeting was to clarify a lot of the misconceptions that are out there and to hear what their concerns are so that we can do a better job as government to expedite the processing of the applications for employment, as well as their labor certificates and the issuing of immigration certificates here on the island.”

Darville said ultimately the whole concept is to ensure that the industrial sector understands the importance of training and to help the

government to prepare the local work force to capitalize on the new job opportunities that will come when the present economic recession is over.

As a general forum, Darville said it was the first of its kind for the island and he was very pleased with the turnout.

“We had a wide cross section of the industrial sector and I think the meeting was very successful.  We had great participation. Of course, I clearly indicated that we have an open door policy for those companies that want to come into the Ministry for Grand Bahama to speak specifically about some of their concerns.

“We are the first responder on the island and if it is an immigration matter, whether it is a labor matter, we will forward on the information to the relevant government authority,” he stated.

Darville told the gathering that as part of this administration’s plan to “rescue” Grand Bahama, his ministry, in consultation with the Ministries responsible for Immigration and Labour, is committed to training Bahamians in the technical and vocational fields.

“Developing the labor force on this island is paramount going forward, and both the private and public sectors must work together to put an end to the perception that the Bahamian workforce is outside looking in, while foreign workers are reaping the benefits of our progressive society,” he said.

The Minister for Grand Bahama also pointed out that in order to decrease the need for foreign labor, and secure much needed employment opportunities for Grand Bahamians going forward, that a pool of specialized workers must be created that can meet the demand for labor at the existing and future industrial and touristic facilities on the island, and to improve the work ethic of the youth through training.

Mitchell said that “in order for Grand Bahama to continue to develop, this conversation needs to continue and it’s through the dialogue I think that one comes to an understanding about the various policies.

“There is no question that we have a pledge in the immigration sector of trying to put Bahamians first, so that the first call on the economic resources of the country, that call comes to, for, from Bahamians, and that call is answered in their favor.

“I think the sector appreciates that, and there was a frank exchange of views about how we deal with some of the issues of training and preparing the workforce for the challenges of Grand Bahama and its economy. So I was pleased to be a part of it and I hope that I am able to come back again soon and participate in our future dialogues,” Mitchell said.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 October 2013 16:44

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