JIS News

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles, has said that the Ministry’s Market Information System will be strengthened during the current financial year, to facilitate advertisement of job vacancies to more expeditiously address the needs of the country’s investors.
The Minister, who made the announcement in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (May 21), said that $5 million has been provided to upgrade the facility. “These, and other developments in the Ministry, will ensure that quality service is provided for investors, employers, and workers,” he stated.
He told the House that over the last five years, 20,000 persons, 400 companies, and 2,500 individual employers were registered on the system, with 6,000 vacancies advertised and approximately 2,500 persons employed.
Turning to the work permit regime, Mr. Charles said that this remained one of the Ministry’s “troubling problems”.
He said that Government must ensure that qualified Jamaicans are given first priority for the jobs generated locally, but gave the assurance that if the openings, for which investors advertise, are not filled by sufficiently qualified Jamaicans within reasonable time, then the Ministry will provide permits to facilitate overseas workers.
“If you are in Jamaica and we have invited you to come and invest, we assure you that we will give you the necessary skilled workers to perform the job, and if you cannot find such skilled workers, the Ministry. and our administrators are immediately available to give you a work permit to carry somebody from abroad to work here. But I’m not going to allow you to come and take away a job from a Jamaican saying that you’ll pay for the work permit; that’s not on,” the Minister stressed.
“We ask one thing (however), when the person gets the work permit and comes to Jamaica. employ a Jamaican to understudy that person; this is a way of transferring skills,” he said.
The Minister informed that approximately 25,000 work permits were issued between 2003 and 2007, but contended that in many instances, there were suitably qualified locals, who could have filled those positions. “With the new arrangement, we expect that we will not overlook Jamaicans and bring in any new person to work in this country,” he stated.
Giving an update on the dollar loan facility for small and medium sized enterprises, which is being funded through the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Mr. Charles informed that to date, only $423.3 million or 42.3 per cent of the loan amount has been disbursed.
He advised that the remainder of the funds will be “available to a wide cross section of persons,” adding that the money will be forwarded to the Ministry of Industry Investment, and Commerce, for disbursement.