Bahamas Workforce Lacking Soft Skills–Must Do Better, Says Minister.

Photo by Isabella Smith on Unsplash A view of a resort complex in Nassau, Bahamas. Recent reports indicate that employers in the Bahamas are having trouble finding employees with the right mindset to work with tourists.
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Bahamas Minister of Labour and the Public Service Pia Glover-Rolle said that several nationwide studies have shown evidence of some worrying changes to its workforce.

“There is a growing deficit in soft skills. And these soft skills are not necessarily the kind you learn in school; they are the kind of general skills you need to succeed in any setting,” the Minister said during the Department of Labour’s Human Resources Forum Open Panel Discussion held at Baha Mar on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

“The re-imagination of Human Resources for a Better Bahamas,” was the forum’s theme.

She explained that team-work skills, self management, time management, maintaining a positive attitude, listening skills, communication skills, knowledge of basic workplace etiquette and rules, and even conflict resolution skills are not where they should be.

The Minister said when these deficits are added to already existing deficits in numeracy and literacy skills, and job-specific technical skills, there is a recipe for segments of the country’s population that have issues being gainfully employed.

She said In past surveys, over 60 per cent of local employers have identified lack of soft skills as the reason for terminating an employee.  “These soft skills are largely just life skills applied to a work context.  Deep and meaningful fixes are needed if we want to turn this situation around.”

Minister Glover-Rolle said the transformation needed to push back against this decline in work ethic and shift the mindset of our workforce requires the development of a comprehensive and strategic plan to take these issues on.

“The good news is that the situation is fixable. In fact, many times, all that is needed is support, training, and guidance combined with sparking some internal motivation and drive to move the needle in the right direction.”

She said, “To spur this transformation of mindsets, we must be comprehensive in our workforce development initiatives. The upcoming National Apprenticeship Programme is a model for this kind of holistic approach.”

The Minister noted that the first step in the Apprenticeship model is actually the Pre-Apprenticeship training delivered prior to trainees actually beginning an apprenticeship.

She said because the government recognizes the great need for change, the Pre-Apprenticeship training will include academic skills development, financial skills education, mental health support, and soft skills training, as well as job-specific technical training.

“This is what is needed for many of our young people and entry-level employees who are new to work environments. They will receive this training prior to them ever stepping foot in an employer’s workplace.

“This training will be funded by the government to do the heavy lifting so that when they come to you as employers they have the basic, general skill set for on-the-job success. It is at that point that the paid Apprenticeship period will kick in and they will learn the job-specific technical skills needed as they embrace a new career of their choosing.”

The Minister said the government is launching a pilot in the Maritime sector well before year’s end. Then it will form apprenticeship partnerships with employers in Health & Allied Services.  Construction and Auto-Mechanics will also be targeted areas of training.

She added that Hospitality and Tourism obviously have a large role to play as the number one industry in the country.  And finally, Information Communication Technology will be included, because digital skills development is so critical.

Source: Bahamas Information Services.

 

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