It has been a mixed season for the Ministry of Labour’s external employment programme in the United States and Canada.

While new opportunities have been sourced in the restaurant and retail sector, due to the economic recession, there has been a decrease in the number of Barbadian workers requested by one of its major hotels.

This was revealed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Martin Cox, who said there had been a steady decline in the numbers required by Amelia Island Plantation Resorts in Florida over the last couple of years, dropping from 176 in 2007 to 136 in 2008.??

Speaking at the Annual Review Meeting of the Overseas Employment Programme at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning, Mr. Cox stated that due to the reduced occupancy level, even fewer Barbadians were invited in 2009 and the Ministry had not yet been officially informed of the hotel’s plans for 2010.

However, on a positive note the Permanent Secretary revealed that Tim Hortons, a fast food franchise with outlets throughout Canada, had approached the Ministry of Labour to fill vacancies in its front counter operations. Fourteen Barbadians are presently on the shortlist for those positions and are awaiting interviews.

Mr. Cox added that the J1 Travel Summer Programme had also reaped success, with recruiters from Nantucket Island looking to increase their summer 2010 intake.

According to him, the retail chain Staples has been another positive story for the overseas employment programme. "Barbadian workers are currently engaged in a two-year pilot project at Staples Business Depot, Canada, which culminates in July of this year. Information coming from Staples indicates that the agency is very pleased with the Barbadian workers," he pointed out.

Mr. Cox said his Ministry was optimistic about the Seasonal Migrant Labour programme and he believes that there was potential for expansion when the global recession abated.

The Canadian Farm Labour programme also held its annual review meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday, where Barbadian workers heard that they would take home enhanced wages for the 2010 season.

The wage rate in Ontario has increased from CDN. $9.50 per hour, to $10.25 per hour, while Nova Scotia will move from CDN $8.10 to $8.60 per hour. By April 1, 2010, rates in Nova Scotia will increase further to CDN. $9.20 and by October 1, 2010, it will reach CDN $9.65. ??

Author: Andr?? Skeete

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