WEDNESDAY, FEB. 15 UPDATE: More young Bermudians should think about learning a trade, the president of the construction industry association said yesterday.
Charles Dunstan, president of the Construction Association of Bermuda, said that, although Bermuda had a long tradition of masonry working, there appeared to be a shortage of local candidates.
And he said only four people enrolled for a Bermuda College training course in the trade in 2010.
Mr Dunstan said: “I would assume there is a shortage of workers in this category. We would encourage people to think about construction as a career.
“Not everyone is suited to an academic career or wants to work in an office and there are many people who have carved out a good career for themselves in construction.
“Construction has suffered from a lack of training and guidance – over the years we have become a bit of a fallback.”
Mr Dunstan was speaking after Employment, Trade and Industry Minister Patrice Minors announced that an upcoming jobs fair for unemployed construction workers could cut the unemployment rate.
Around 20 construction firms have signed up to attend the event, which hopes to help identify and interview people with building trades experience with a view to getting them back to work.
Ms Minors said she had been told that masons and carpenters were finding it hard to find work.
But she added: “The Ministry is currently reviewing work permits and can say with some level of certainty that there will be vacancies.
“This would be a good opportunity for Bermudians to take advantage of the job fair to make themselves known to potential employers.”
She added that she had been in talks with the industry and contractors on major projects to ensure Bermudian workers got every opportunity to advance their skills, especially in form work for carpenters, which involves creating frames to hold concrete in place while it hardens.
She added: “When the next major project evolves, we will have less of a need to employ non-Bermudians to come in and do that work.”
Ms Minors was speaking as she announced the jobs fair at Cabinet Office, backed by Mr Dunstan and Edward Ball of the Woodworkers Association.
Mr Dunstan said: “Creative means to stimulate employment in the private sector will go a long way to moving the economy in the right direction, which is what we are all looking for.”
He added that there was a lack of good data on unemployment and on the available local skills in the construction business.
But he said that the jobs fair would help to build up a picture of how many unemployed tradesmen there were and assist employers in matching workers to jobs.
Mr Ball added: “The jobs fair is most definitely encouraging and we’re happy to be here. I can see that in the very near future, it will lead to opportunities for Bermudians.”
Ms Minors said that people who wanted to go to the fair should make sure they have an up-to-date resume and references with them. She said anyone who needed a resume written could get help from the Department of Labour & Training, who will help draw one up free of charge.
Pre-registration for the event starts tomorrow (Thursday) at the National Training Board at the corner of Reid and King Streets in Hamilton.
The jobs fair will be held at the Bermuda College on Thursday, February 23 between 10am and 3pm.