Training Plan shows skills in demand
This is the summary of my search for some answers on the underemployment / unemployment situation in Bermuda.
The changes in our economy continue to impact segments of society that were able to survive financially under our older employment model of tourism, conventional businesses, both international and retail / service-type sectors. A story in last Wednesday’s edition of The Royal Gazette illuminated another older individual case relying upon financial assistance, unable to find a job.
These situations were amplified by Bermuda Age Concern stating that many seniors are living perilously close to the edge of their financial positions, so much so that the website actively seeks donations.
Researching Facts in the Bermuda Jobs Employment Briefs (2016), Labour Market Indicators (2014), and other missives (all listed below) indicate the following:
• Total filled jobs were lost for seven straight years (both Bermudian and non-Bermudian).
• The number of companies dropped, then recovered somewhat (from the corporate registrar), but we don’t know how many are active trade/business concerns.
• There are shortages of Bermudians in many occupations — pages 6 and 7.
• The average hours worked a week also dropped for a number of years 2011-2014 (no data for 2015-2016). This is an indicator to me of more part-timers in the workforce. Part-time workers are not offered the same benefits as full-timers. A business struggling to survive will hire two part-time workers, rather than one full time — to save on employee benefits.
• Surprisingly, according to the Labour Force Preliminary Report August 2015 — page 1 — the number of Bermudians unemployed fell almost 1,000 from 3,214 to 2,278 while the youth unemployment rate also declined by six percentage points.
Nowhere, in the places / websites that I reviewed, could I find specific, detailed current facts about the Bermuda employment / unemployment situation.
• Number of jobs available has decreased significantly.
• Number of companies, both local and exempt seem to have stabilised.
• Number of unemployed has also decreased.
• But, more jobs appear to be part-time, slowing upward mobility.
• Also, more jobs appear to need better math, interpersonal acumen, and superior problem-solving skill sets.
• Hospitality, service type jobs appear to be fairly plentiful.
• Older individuals report difficulty finding jobs.
But, what we still don’t know is:
• What are real gaps for service jobs?
• Quantifiable reasons why older individuals are not getting jobs. Are their skill sets lacking, is it subtle ageism with retraining required, is their demand for higher compensation than the position is offering, only part-time work with no benefits, or type of jobs they are suitable for simply no longer exist?
• There appear to be no reports on individual successes at finding jobs, or reasons why applicants have been unsuccessful.
• How many people are chronically underemployed, a difficult position since benefits usually are not provided with those jobs?
• How many people have given up looking for work, never notified the agency that they are unemployed?
• How many working-age individuals (and their family retirees) have emigrated permanently from Bermuda in the last five years?
• Can we quantify the number of jobs that no longer exist (or are now severely restricted) due to economic conditions, i.e. construction, landscaping and ancillary subcontractors- electricians, plumbers, IT, and so on.
I then spent time reviewing the National Training Plan 2013 to 2023 Phase I — prepared by a very large number of Bermuda stakeholders across the employment / training/ education / Department of Workforce Development spectrum. This is a very serious document with honest, focused commentary from various industry public and private groups, many, many of them provided feedback on employment positions.
I will insert widespread positive opportunities and some negative commentary, regarding the five major areas of focus: Government, Finance & Insurance, Hotels & Hospitality, Development & Infrastructure, Sales & Services.
• Bermudians need to be well versed in life skills, lack thereof compromises many in the workplace. Bermudians need to redevelop the legendary skills we had, to promote the Brand Bermuda.
• Finance — P12. Shortages of Bermudians and widespread demand for them in actuarial science, brokers, underwriters, accountants, financial analysts, and other numerate categories. In 2013, approximately 1,900 non-Bermudians were needed to fill this sector. Bermudians with excellent training in math, economics, accounting, law and statistics are in demand.
• Hospitality — P15. Great opportunities for qualified Bermudians with certifications, degree courses in management, culinary arts, international knowledge, possible gaming technicians, locksmiths cashiers, and so on. Bermudians can overcome the “servitude” moniker and reinvent themselves as international ambassadors for Bermuda.
• Development & Infrastructure. P20. According to the report, there is consistent demand for skilled Bermudian people in this area, regardless of nationality or the contraction of the construction industries. These trades have become highly technical, in and of themselves. Continual upgrading of technical skills (with industry experience) even here is required to provided consistent high work standards.
• Sales & Service. P24-25. The report assessment is that this is a tougher area of employment that is very dependent upon economic activity generated by the above sectors, which currently is static. Impediments include shrinking markets; online shopping; cost of doing business / overhead; and qualified and motivated staff.
Everyone should read this document — if you want to know where the jobs are, what is required, skills needed, and help from the Workforce Development Team. Read it. Study it. It could help you more than you know to find and keep the job you want. http://www.dwd.gov.bm/sites/default/files/5379ntlTrainingPlan.pdf
Today, I feel incredibly frustrated. I do not feel that I was able to do a succinct job on this very concerning subject. There are quite a few facts available on employment in Bermuda, but not enough to tie anything anywhere or make a coherent conclusion. However, the golden nugget in the information, the National Training Plan, represents an extremely good initiative to begin to reinvent ourselves again. I implore you to read it.
What is obvious is that Bermuda must continue to focus on inspiring education and marketplace skills: math, science, global understanding of economics, law, problem solving, IT, international ambassadors, technical proficiency and more for younger population through the school system. We must also continue disruptively embracing retraining and re-entry into the workforce for any older individual who wants to continue to be employed.
Is that a decent answer? Probably not, but you have my permission to throw slings and arrows my way.
Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM, Masters of Law, International Tax and Financial Services. Pondstraddler* Life™ Financial Perspectives for Bermuda Islanders, their domestic affairs, their Multinational Families and International Connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: email@example.com
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