Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration and representatives for the nation’s major private sector organizations met recently to agree to establish an ongoing public-private sector effort to undertake positive and constructive activities to address both the Government’s and the private sector’s needs related to work permits.
Joining the Minister was Minister Ryan Pinder, Minister of Financial Services; Minister Khaalis Rolle, Minister of State for Investments; Immigration Director William Pratt; Chester Cooper and Edison Sumner from the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation; Stuart Bowe and Frank Comito with the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association; Robert Sands representing the Bahamas Hotel Employers Association; and Aliya Allen with the Bahamas Financial Services Board.
The parties agreed to work together to: undertake a skills needs assessment to help guide training; improve the current work permit review and approval process; strengthen communication between the Department and companies; and improve company awareness regarding procedures required to apply for short-term or long-term work permits, an appeals process, resources for training and sourcing potential Bahamian applicants.
The initiative is in part a response to questions and concerns raised by some of the organization’s members about the degree to which the Government appreciates the importance of securing permits when a qualified Bahamian cannot be found.
The Minister has indicated that the Government recognizes the need for foreign labour in some areas when a qualified Bahamian is not forthcoming but has stressed that more must be done by both the public and private sectors to train and prepare Bahamians for many of the positions currently being filled by work permit holders.
The organizations and the Minister agreed to meet again within a month to discuss progress on the targeted points of collaboration.
The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association