|Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, welcoming Ambassador Palmer to??her Ministry. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??|
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, has urged the United States Government to consider alternative ways for Barbadian workers to be flown to America under the H2B Hotel Programme.
The Labour Minister made this appeal today as she met with US Ambassador to Barbados, Larry Palmer, during a courtesy call at her Ministry’s headquarters in the Warrens Office Complex.
Explaining that the H2B Hotel Programme was one of the Ministry’s overseas employment initiatives, she said under that programme persons from the island could be hired to work in American hotels, primarily along the Eastern coast.??
"When American recruiters visit Barbados and interview our hospitality candidates, they always say they are impressed with the quality of our workers.?? But, the challenge is the cost of the airfare from Barbados to America and back," Dr. Byer Suckoo said.
Stating that the recruiter was responsible for the workers’ travel cost, she lamented: "The airfare is not competitive when compared to Jamaica and Central American countries that are closer to the mainland."
Outlining that her Ministry had proposed several options, she noted that the major suggestions included Barbados subsiding some of the travel costs, or working with the airlines to guarantee concessionary rates.
Adding that the island had similar arrangements with Canada and some cruise liners, Dr. Byer Suckoo emphasised: "Barbados does not have the capacity to absorb all our educated people into our workforce, so we need initiatives like external employment programmes, and entrepreneurial drive to help compensate."
The American Ambassador said that the H2B programme was very instrumental in the development of his country as well as participating nations.??
Pointing to his experience on the island as an example, the envoy reasoned that Barbadians possessed a high level of efficiency, intelligence, and quality from which the American hospitality industry could benefit from.
Assuring the Labour Minister that he would look into the matter, Mr. Palmer added that he was also impressed with the Barbadian work ethic and education system.
Matters of early childhood intervention, social security, agribusiness, and the Barbadian Social Partnership were also discussed.