This is the second article in a three-part series examining the gaming issue in Bermuda, written by Pastor Simons. Read the first article here: ‘Misleading’ that gaming will rescue economy
We are certainly living in interesting times. We are witnessing the political world unravel before our eyes with practices, allegations, and accusations that, at best, point to a lack of integrity in Government.
My concern, as well as that of many of the faith-based leaders, leaders of social agencies, and members of the general public, is that the “rush and urgency” with which the Government is trying to implement gaming in Bermuda is based on the shaky claim that it will create more jobs and help to rescue the economy.
It is my view that gaming will not solve our economic woes; rather, our Government should shift its attention to more sustainable alternatives that will prove to be a greater investment in our people and in the future of Bermuda.
Last week we saw that gaming is not a secure way to boost the economy owing to realities that:
n Many have to lose for a few to win.
n The inevitable “kick-back” of generated social-ills from gaming will cost Bermuda’s taxpayers more than any legal profit the government will make from this industry.
n It is misleading to think that gaming will create many jobs for the island and rescue the economy in any sustainable way with our visitor base and high cost of living.
This week we will look at ways that will help our country in a more sustainable way. Our government is missing the opportunity to invest in our greatest natural resource — our people.
We should invest in greater customer service in the tourism industry.
Historically, what has always attracted people to Bermuda is not casinos, amusement parks, or large malls, but the God-given beauty of our island and unparalleled beauty of our people displayed in our friendliness and customer service that we need to increase.
I would like to suggest that instead of the Government entertaining investors in gaming, we should become the investors that will give a sustainable future to our people with a focus on our youth.
Secure the future
Here are a few endeavours that I believe are sure ways to secure Bermuda’s future and economy.
Revamp our educational curriculum to offer insurance and reinsurance courses from the middle to high school level to prepare our own people for international business, which is our number one industry.
This is sustainable development, not gaming. We live in one of the leading countries for international business, banking, insurance and reinsurance, yet the Government has failed to prepare the majority of our young people for this field.
It was reported this week in the Royal Gazette that there were 1,000 international companies registered in 2013, a 15 per cent increase from 2012, yet it is concerning that a student can graduate from our educational system and not be offered or exposed to the vast field of insurance, reinsurance, international business, or banking in a comprehensive manner in a country that is leading the way in these industries.
By living in a global, competitive market, we will always have foreign workers; however, with approximately 15 per cent of Bermuda’s working population consisting of non-Bermudians, doesn’t it make more sense to focus on preparing our people for a field where jobs already exist, and at a higher average income than any job in the gaming industry could provide?
This is relevant development. This is where we should concentrate our efforts, not trying to push gaming without the people’s consent.
Create an adequate technical education programme at the high school level to foster the natural propensity and aptitude that many have for technical learning.
The Bermuda Government opened the Bermuda Technical Institute in 1956 to answer the need for technical education for young persons with an entry level at age 12.
It was, in effect, a technical high school; and it was a revolutionary concept in Bermuda.
The achievements and success of the school and its 600-plus alumni was outstanding with many graduates pursuing further education at a time when most school-leavers did not consider a college-level education.
Reason for closure
Why was The Bermuda Technical Institute closed down in 1972 by order of the Department of Education, when it proved to be so successful among the tradespersons in Bermuda?
Many seniors in this community have shared with me their unwavering conviction that the shutdown was precipitated because persons were “making ‘too much’ money in the trades and were advancing by purchasing property and homes for their families”.
Talk to many older Bermudians and they will tell you how they feel about this. Years later, I recall for the seven years that I worked at Bermuda College, five of which as Assistant Dean of Students in the Counselling and Career Centre.
Part of our mandate was to work with the students in the Best Steps programme because our island’s educational system had failed many of our young people.
They had qualified to graduate from high school in Bermuda, yet did not meet the entry-level requirements for the Bermuda College — hence, they were gridlocked.
The Best Steps programme, at the time, was an interim programme to prepare them for college-level work using the premises at the Bermuda College to facilitate the programme.
Those in the programme that were interested in the trades struggled with the technical college courses because, at the time, it was predominately a modular programme that forced students to work on their own.
However, research demonstrates that modular programmes are a recipe for disaster for most trade students.
In addition, to enter the trades at the college level for this population of talented students is far too late.
Many, not all, who would have excelled in these fields would have dropped out of school or become despondent upon graduation by not fitting into a highly academic role and look to other unethical means to make a living for themselves.
Focus on youth
Why don’t the Government and the Opposition focus on creating a stronger track for our youth who will excel in the area of trades, even while in high school, as a viable and respectful option rather than the past misuse of the name “Tech” as a place for those who were continually suspended, which proved ineffective and came to nothing?
A viable school or programme within the school to develop future tradesmen and tradeswomen is true sustainability, but to chase gaming as a means to help our people is a distraction from what we should focus on and invest in.
We don’t need gaming as a new means of revenue; what we need to do is prepare our people to tap into the revenue that already exists!
We need to prepare them for tomorrow through certain, secure, and sustainable means, not by the uncertainty and risks of gaming that comes with the façade as a source to quick money.
Next week we will conclude this series with some important summaries that will help us to realize the importance of sustainable development.