Jamaica is recording a decline in the number of work permits allocated to foreigners to work in the country.
Labour and Social Security Minister, Shahine Robinson, said that 1,334 permits were granted for the period April to June, this year. She said 831 were new applications and 503 were renewals.
“For the corresponding period last year, we issued 1,675 permits; 835 of them were new applications and 781 were renewals.”
A Jamaica Information Service statement issued here did not indicate from the countries the foreign nationals were recruited, but Robinson said that the granting of work permits is critical in realising the nation’s economic growth.
“It is a mechanism to plug the gaps in skill sets needed to provide sizeable manpower investments in tourism, construction and infrastructure. Many projects being carried out across the island require specialised skills that may not be available locally in adequate numbers,” she told reporters.
The Minister said she has insisted on a thorough review of all applications for work permits to ensure that these are not been issued for skills that exist locally, and, as a result, the numbers are trending down.
“As your Minister, I do believe that we have a responsibility to find the balance between facilitating investment opportunities as well as meeting the employment needs of our citizens,” she noted.
Meanwhile, the Ministry, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), has developed a project to modernise the work permit system.
Robinson said that this will replace the existing legacy system with a new client-focused, web-based work permit software.
“The new regime will be designed to cut the processing time for work permits, analyse the database of skills in Jamaica and help to simplify the process of doing business,” she noted.
She also announced that 7,194 Jamaicans were placed in the Overseas Employment Programme for the period April to June 2018, an increase of 5.6 per cent over the corresponding period last year.
“Since July 2018, some 1,295 additional persons have been recruited, of which about 100 have been placed on farms in the United States of America,” Robinson said, adding that based on her visits to the United States Departments of Labour and Homeland Security, the Ministry expects new employees to come on board, possibly yielding 200 new recruits.
“As we accelerate marketing strategies for the programme, opportunities in the United States care and construction industries are being discussed,” Robinson said, noting that her ministry is concerned about the recent incidents of scamming by employment agencies.
She said that the comprehensive public-education campaign that was announced during her sectoral presentation in the House will be launched later this month.
“We will pay special attention to rural communities which are particularly susceptible to these nefarious activities. This will be accompanied by ramping up our synergies with the security forces in an increased effort to eradicate this scourge,” Robinson said.
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