FRIDAY, JULY 20: Globalization has allowed more individuals around the world to enter the global economy and consequently, competition has increased.
This will continue as technology and information enable many more people around the world to leave behind their subsistence living and move forward towards paid employment.
Bermuda, along with other developed countries, has increased its demand for consumer goods (cellphones, I-pads) that are manufactured in countries that have cheaper labour costs (for example, India and China).
As a result, individuals working in these factories are gaining greater cash flows and their standards of living are improving (diet, education and clothing).
In the past, Governments didn’t have to make as many social support payments because greater numbers of the population were willing and/or able to support themselves.
The current downturn of the economy presents the Government with two problems. Tax receipts are lower as fewer people are in work and at the same time, social support payments are increasing. When these two combine, the result is reductions in other Government expenditures and/or increased borrowings.
We must realize that even when the economy gets better, we will have a growing population of individuals that will not be able to easily maintain a lifestyle comparable with current living standards.
This is due to the fact that the new entrants into the global labour market are competing with Bermudians. Jobs now flow to the countries that provide the best combination of a well-educated workforce, cost, quality and flexibility.
Gone are the days that jobs and tourists came to Bermuda just because we were the closest foreign jurisdiction to the affluent north eastern US.
The largest areas of growth in the global economy are in Asia and Bermuda is half the world away.
To bring Asian business to Bermuda, we have to out-compete all of the other jurisdictions that are located closer to Asia such as Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, India and so on. At the same time, the Bermudian population will begin to age rapidly, increasingly so from 2015.
Our economy will bounce back but the difference that we must prepare for is that society will look different. We will still have people with time available; however, now there will be fewer jobs. It will be harder to convert that time into cash with a second or third job.
The higher numbers of time rich individuals will increase and because of this our community needs to respond to the changing circumstances.
This is not a temporary thing; it is here to stay and it’s time that we adjust.
Our Economic Toolkit is designed for the unemployed/underemployed to help them to start thinking of ways to do things differently.
It is also a document for the community to review and reflect on how unemployment/underemployment is impacting their family and friends.
This toolkit should also be the start of discussions in which our community should consider the ways future policies, plans and programmes should change.
These issues are not unique to Bermuda; our neighbouring countries have the same challenges. However, we are the only ones who have an interest in figuring out the challenges of our island.
People will have more time on their hands and individuals need to find ways to use this time more productively for themselves, friends and family.
The community in turn needs to reciprocate. Churches, schools, sports and social clubs must not leave their members struggling.
Community groups can guide people in giving back their time, skill and advice.
All groups need to recognize the change in society and determine how they can reach out to the individuals in their sphere of influence.
Peter Everson is a member of the Sustainable Development Roundtable (SDRT). The SDRT is an advisory body to the Government of Bermuda that makes constructive recommendations through the Sustainable Development Department (SDD) to Minister Marc Bean and Cabinet on specific policies and actions to enable sustainable development for Bermuda and her people.
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