JIS News

For Jamaican-born Dayner Clarke-Azzellino, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is an immediate reality. Mrs. Clarke-Azzellino, Marketing Manager at the Trinidad and Tobago-based company, CL Permanent, is one of the first beneficiaries of the Free Movement of Labour clause under the CSME.
“I am really happy to be one of the first to benefit from this new system, as I have spoken to other Jamaicans who migrated here years ago and they are shocked at how easy and quick the process was,” says Mrs. Clarke-Azzellino, who moved to the twin island Republic in November 2004.
The ‘process’ to which she refers is that of acquiring the Skills Certificate, which allows CARICOM nationals to work in CARICOM member states without a work permit.
Under the Caribbean Community Free Movement of Skilled Persons Act, 1997, Mrs. Clarke-Azzellino, who is a University graduate and skilled professional, falls into one of the qualified categories for free movement.
Before showing up for job interviews, however, she had to apply for a Skills Certificate, which replaces the work permit as the document, which allows for employment outside of one’s home country.
The procedure involved her visiting the CARICOM division of the Foreign Affairs Office in Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain, where she completed a one-page form to which she attached the originals of her University certificates as well as her birth certificate, along with passport-sized photographs.
“Within a month they called to say that my application was approved. Soon after that, my Skills Certificate was ready,” she tells JIS News.
“I was then asked for a police record from Jamaica and also to do a medical. Following that, I went to the immigration office in Port of Spain, presented the Skills Certificate, my passport, the police record and medical and got my official stamp, which allows me to stay and work indefinitely in Trinidad and Tobago,” she adds.
From there, it has been smooth sailing for Mrs. Clarke-Azellino, who left Jamaica primarily to be with her husband Leonardo, an Italian who also works in Trinidad.
Feeling at home in a country with a similar vibrancy as hers, Mrs. Clarke-Azzellino loves the reception from the Trinidadians and is commended daily on her Jamaican accent. “I have had a good experience in the country so far. They are having fusions and collaborations on so many levels here that it feels very much like home,” she tells JIS News.
“There are far more similarities among the people of the Caribbean countries than we can ever imagine,” she notes.
While some CARICOM nationals have expressed concerns about job security in light of the new possibilities open to employers to recruit from a wider job market, this CARICOM national notes that she was not discriminated against by the Trinidadian immigration officials, who she said were efficient and helpful.”The certificate is well known in the immigration circles here. I have always been treated very well by all of the immigration officials. They guided me through the process and made life easier,” Mrs. Clarke-Azzellino points out.
While she procured her Skills Certificate in her host country, she could have also done so in Jamaica. “I know of one other Jamaican who works with me and who is benefiting from free movement of labour under the CSME, but he got his Skills Certificate in Jamaica,” she adds.
In an interview with JIS News, Veronica Robinson, Senior Director, Work Permits at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, explains that it takes two to three weeks to receive a Skills Certificate following the application.
The Ministry has granted some 49 Skills Certificates, which are also referred to as Certificates of Recognition, to Jamaicans seeking employment in CARICOM member states. This figure, however, is only a fraction or 15 per cent of the 308 Skills Certificates granted to CARICOM nationals seeking employment in Jamaica.
Quite at home in Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Clarke-Azzellino has high praise for the CSME.
“The principle of all the CARICOM countries co-operating for the greater good of each country is a marvelous concept and it is essential if we are to compete and thrive in this new trade environment. It will also allow us to share ideas, experiences, technologies and resources that will help our enterprises and it should result in very positive strides for all of us,” she says.