By Rayne Morgan
HAMILTON, BERMUDA — The government of Bermuda’s efforts to combat an unprecedented spike in unemployment stemming from 2020 has seen it provide more than 300 jobs for its citizens, according to Minister of Labour Jason Hayward.
During a press conference on August 2, Hayward attributed those results to a Department of Workforce Development (DWD) initiative to pair qualified Bermudians with jobs that are “closed” or “restricted” as per a moratorium on work permits that was issued in November 2020.
“Through the Department of Workforce Development, we’re able to better pair individuals with job opportunities that exist. We can also monitor the referral system that comes through the Department of Workforce Development,” he said.
“I believe in a previous press conference I indicated that over 300 jobs have been gained through the referral system, the DWD referral system on the job ward, and I believe that’s a direct result of us creating capacity for those individuals to be absorbed into the job market.”
The moratorium was initially implemented for a six-month period, but has since been extended to the end of October 2021, having effectively been in place for a year with a possibility of further extension. Under the mandate, new work permits are generally not being approved for closed jobs; and employers are only able to submit work permit requests for restricted jobs provided they are unable to hire a qualified Bermudian. Additionally, the “partners” of Bermudian residents are generally barred from seeking employment until further notice.
The DWD said the move was “consistent with the government’s continued objective of protecting job opportunities for Bermudians”.
At the time the moratorium was implemented, unemployment in the country stood at 7.9 percent and at 9.6 percent for Bermudians specifically, with 2,891 people unemployed and 4,977 underemployed among a working population of 33,496.
It remains to be seen whether other countries in the region, likewise burdened with record unemployment rates amid the COVID-19 pandemic, could implement similar policies.
In the meantime, the DWD has continued to issue calls for the public to submit resumes, pledging to provide training and job readiness services; register unemployed Bermudians for closed and restricted jobs; and work with stakeholders to match qualified individuals with those hiring. Additionally, the government has reportedly formed a working group with the Chamber of Commerce to ensure “there’s adequate match for the supply and demand of labour in the country”.
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Department of Workforce Development — https://www.gov.bm/department/workforce-development%20/%20https://www.gov.bm/articles/public-appeal-unemployed-bermudians
Bermuda Labour Force Survey Report (November 2020) — https://www.gov.bm/sites/default/files/November%202020%20Labour%20Force%20Survey%20%20Report.pdf
Work permit moratorium notice — https://www.gov.bm/articles/minister-labour-press-conference-statement-2-november