JIS News

Horace Dalley, Minister of Labour and Social Security, is urging Members of Parliament, who recommend persons for the Farm Work Programme, to ensure that these persons are sufficiently literate, as an increasingly high standard is being set for such workers in the United States and Canada.
The Minister, who was making his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in Gordon House on Tuesday (May 17), pointed out that technological advances as well as growing competition from workers from other parts of the world, required that the Jamaican worker be of a high standard.
“A number of farms in both countries have computerized certain operations and workers will be required to perform their duties with the assistance of computers,” he pointed out.
Literacy and numeracy, Mr. Dalley said, were critical for selection for the programme, noting that a large percentage of applicants, in the last selection exercise, did not meet the required standards.
He recommended that it might become necessary for Members of Parliament to assist in identifying or establishing training programmes in the areas they represent. “Without such efforts, the future of the Farm Work programme could be seriously jeopardized, ” the Labour Minister stated.
While the overwhelming majority of farm workers are men, the number of women on the programme is increasing, with 35 women selected last year for the Canadian programme.
“The women have been performing very well and with their current advantage in respect of educational levels, they are poised to access greater opportunities, ” the Minister said, adding that the major area of employment for women was hydroponics.
As part of the approach to market the Jamaican farm worker, Minister Dalley said strategically located offices had been established in the receiving countries to facilitate contact with prospective employers.
“Last year, we purchased our own office building in Toronto and recently, we opened an office in Leamington where we hope to secure jobs in green houses,” he informed. At both locations, he said, employers expressed their wish for workers, who were trainable and computer literate.

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