Labour Minister Of The Bahamas Opens The Debate On The Apprenticeship Bill (2024)

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Nassau, The Bahamas – Minister of Labour and the Public Service the Hon. Pia Glover-Rolle said in passing the Apprenticeship Bill (2024), the Government is setting the legislative foundation for a national institution that will impact people at a large scale.

“Through this programme, our people will be offered hands-on opportunities to learn on the job and begin the process of building a career,” the Minister said as she opened the debate on the Apprenticeship Bill (2024) in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

“We see this as a historic institution that will have an impact similar to when NIB was first introduced in terms of how it changes lives, advances our nation, and secures our future.”

She explained that the need for this programme is so great.

“In conversations with Human Resource managers and employers across the country, they lament what they describe as a decline in overall work ethic and attitudes.

“This is concerning because of the relationship between productivity and economic growth. To become less productive at a time when global productivity is growing at an astronomic rate, does not bode well for our future economic vitality and competitiveness.”

The Labour Minister said this administration is not content to see this problem growing and do nothing about it and is taking action through the National Apprenticeship Programme.

She explained that over 10 years ago, the Wages and Productivity Survey was carried out as the most comprehensive labour force survey done on the country’s population related to issues with employability and productivity.

The Minister said the findings, though somewhat dated now, highlighted three issues.

She said the first was high unemployment, which this administration is currently addressing with unemployment at its lowest levels in 15 years.

The Minister said the second issue was the skills mismatch between labour demand and the labour supply, which means that the local workforce simply did not match what employers were looking for.

“As we seek to drive unemployment even lower, we must face the fact that the lack of employability in segments of our population may affect employment.”

She added, “The truth is that, in many cases, jobs are available and we are simply having an issue filling them or keeping them filled.

The Labour Minister said there are hundreds of jobs in the Department of Labour Jobs Portal waiting to be filled by a qualified Bahamian.

She said the third issue identified in the survey was a lack of integration between employers’ needs and the design of education and training systems.

“A lack of soft skills and problems with on-the-job conduct was cited as the number one reason for dismissals by 65 per cent of employers.”

The Minister said participants in the National Apprenticeship Programme will be set up for a lifelong career through the specialised training they receive.

“So, for example, through the Maritime pilot programme, we expect to see the full range of maritime careers represented, providing access to opportunities for people who would not otherwise have access.”

She said the National Apprenticeship Programme will be available to anyone 16 years old or older.

“Once the legislative framework is in place, we will work hand-in-hand with stakeholders to flesh out the rules and procedures to ensure that the programme is working for the intended groups of Bahamian citizens and residents.”

The Minister explained that the criteria for enrollment will include parental consent for minors, and other criteria can be introduced to ensure that this Programme is working in synergy with the educational system.

The Labour Minister said, “Given the emphasis on launching new careers, we can expect robust youth participation. This fits in perfectly with this administration’s focus on youth through initiatives like the National Youth Guard, the upcoming CAPAS School for the Performing Arts, Urban Renewal, and other youth outreach initiatives.”

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