Minister Michael Fahy (centre) with George Outerbridge, Director of the Department of Workforce Development and Jeff Sousa, MP, Chair of the National Training Board. *Photo supplied
Minister Michael Fahy (centre) with George Outerbridge, Director of the Department of Workforce Development and Jeff Sousa, MP, Chair of the National Training Board. *Photo supplied

We’ve had a very busy few weeks since the end of our Budget Debate and as a result, I thought it timely to provide the public with a progress report on the Ministry of Home Affairs progress – particularly as it relates to the evolution of our workforce development initiatives.

As you’ve heard me say previously, this Government is concentrating much of its energy and efforts towards growing our economy so that there is opportunity for all.

You will be aware that as of April 1st, our Work Permit Policy reforms came into effect. The modernising of our work permit policy is aimed at preserving Bermudian jobs.

Coupled with modernising the work permit policy, we have also made it our priority to redouble our efforts towards ensuring that our unemployed and underemployed Bermudians are provided with the right avenues and tools for training.

Effective tomorrow, 3rd May, 2013, subject to the Gazetting of the required legal instrument, the name of the Department of Labour and Training will officially change to the Department of Workforce Development and Mr. George Outerbridge will assume the substantive post of Director of this Department.

I should note here that the former National Training Board section and the Department of Labour and Training are now combined to establish the Department of Workforce Development.

Essentially, the former department of NTB will now be the training unit within the department of workforce development.

The name change signals the commencement of the transition of the Department and its mission to ensure the delivery of qualified human resources to support Bermuda’s economy. It is well known that workforce development by its very nature is intended to discern and address the deficiencies amongst those desiring employment. Understanding these deficiencies and putting in place an effective plan to close the gaps is an imperative for Bermuda, now and in the future.

For this reason I am particularly pleased to be joined by the new Chairman of the National Training Board – Mr. Jeff Sousa - as the National Training Board, officially constituted early this week, has been charged with the development of a National Training Plan for Bermuda. I should note, Mr. Vince Ingham, unable to join us today will serve as Deputy Chairman.

The importance of undertaking national planning for a sustainable workforce in Bermuda is an urgent priority for the Government, as based on the unemployment data, we must work to "up-skill" the people of Bermuda in an effort to improve Bermuda’s competitive position in the delivery of products and services to both local and global markets.

Historically, workforce planning in Bermuda has been hampered by the lack of a single comprehensive body to coordinate data with respect to the numbers and types of professions and the training required to support the economy.

Therefore, the development of the National Training Plan is a significant first step towards the continual improvement of workforce planning in Bermuda and the establishment of a common framework for discussions on future workforce numbers supported by programmes and the alignment of scholarships, training funds and training opportunities to achieve this. The Plan will enable Bermuda to move from its largely uncoordinated workforce training regime to the adoption of a long-term view, enabling Bermuda to become more self-sufficient in the supply of human resources to support and sustain the economy.

The National Training Plan is intended to represent an integrated Government and private sector organisational framework enabling effective response to the needs of our economy for now and in the future. We will be forward planning to meet the needs of the economy looking ahead for at least the next ten years.

The National Training Board will develop and manage the implementation of the National Training Plan working with the relevant government agencies and private sector stakeholders to leverage the planning capabilities within industry.

It is envisaged that the Board will serve as the overseeing training organization in Bermuda bringing together representatives from existing groups and associations under one umbrella.

The industry representatives now serving on the National Training Board have been nominated by and represent specific industry groups and these industry groups will fulfil the role of Occupational Advisory Committees.

The Board will engage the Occupational Advisory Committees as well as the wider community in the development of the National Training Plan.

Ultimately, the community can expect a Plan that provides a strategic road map for the delivery of qualified Bermudian human capital across all segments of industry in the short and long-term.

The Plan will fulfil our goals of ensuring that Bermuda ultimately reduces our reliance on overseas labour because we have carefully considered the future needs of the economy and developed our people accordingly.

A delivery date for the Plan will be determined once the Board has had the opportunity to consider the requirements and determine a way forward; and we hope to share a projected delivery date with the public in the coming weeks.

Finally, I am of the view that we all have a stake in strengthening our current economy and workforce. Government will need the cooperation of all in our community to address the challenges that we are facing. And in that regard, I very much look forward to working with the National Training Board and by extension the Occupational Advisory Committees representing a wide cross section of industry, on the development and implementation of the National Training Plan.

Thank you.