BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS — Twenty Bajans will be setting out for the United States this winter after having secured agriculture jobs as part of the USA Farm Labour Programme.
Under the arrangement, eight Bajans will work on a New York vineyard for three months come January 2022, and another 12 will work in a West Virginia greenhouse for four months come February 2022.
Luis Carcamo, the New York-based representative of the contractor, noted that organizers intend to repeat the programme annually. Over time, he said, organizers hope the workers would come to consider both their native Barbados as well as their U.S. locales as “home”.
“We are looking for people who want to try new things, learn new skills, have an open mind [and] work in a different environment. The number-one quality is being a hard worker and being able to adapt,” he said.
Candidate interviews were conducted through the Barbados Employment and Career Counseling Service (BECCS), which falls under the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations.
According to a ministry representative, while this initial cohort consists of 20 workers, the government is optimistic that more opportunities will become available as the U.S. is only a recent addition to an existing list of external programmes that saw Bajans being selected to work abroad.
Carcamo similarly noted the high caliber of Bajan candidates who applied, stating, “We are happy to see that in many of the profiles of the individuals, they already have experience in similar programmes in Canada and the UK.
“Many also have some agricultural background in Barbados, so we are happy to see that. I think we are very pleased with the quality of the candidates so far.”
According to the Barbados government, “Mr. Carcamo gave the assurance that the housing for workers on the programme met the required standard, and noted that his company would assist workers in setting up accounts to facilitate the payment of salaries for the workers, and would be responsible for other employee-related matters.
“He also said that the company would facilitate the workers in obtaining winter gear during the initial settling-in period to ensure their comfort, as they were expected to take up their positions during the height of the winter season.”