Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Karl Samuda, says he is looking forward to working with the relevant stakeholders for further development of the Overseas Employment Programme.
He made the remarks at a send-off ceremony held recently at the New Kingston offices of the National Insurance Fund for farmworkers heading to the United States of America to take up employment opportunities.
Mr. Samuda reiterated plans to expand the number of workers participating in the US work programme from 13,000 to 30,000 per annum.
He said that the number of expert liaison officers to guide the expansion of the programme would also need to be increased.
“We need to get more liaison officers to promote the programme consistent to the objective as I have set to expand it threefold. We have got to get appropriate supervision for the United States, to push this programme forward,” Mr. Samuda said.
Meanwhile Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Jamaica, Scott Feeken, noted that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamaica remains only second to Mexico as a participant in the temporary worker programme globally.
“Despite the significant obstacles of the pandemic, Jamaica has sent a record number of farm and service workers to the United States under the programme. Win-win is a well-used couple of words, but the H-2 Programme represents a perfect example of how the needs and skills of two countries combine to produce powerful results,” Mr. Feeken said.
Workers on the US temporary-work programme bring an estimated $100 million in earnings back to Jamaica.
Up to the end of August, 4,781 Jamaicans have participated in the US Overseas Employment Programme with 3,625 farmers participating in the H2A programme and 1,156 in the H-2B hospitality programme.