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More than 1000 Jamaicans to be recruited for jobs in Canada

KINGSTON, Jamaica – More than 1000 Jamaicans are to be recruited for jobs in Canada by the end of 2008, under the Overseas Employment Programme.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier, told JIS News that emanating from discussions with the Canadian Federal Minister of Labour, business leaders and other officials, during an official visit to Canada in June, the need was indicated for skilled workers from Jamaica to work in various industries in the province of British Columbia.

“We are expecting, based on discussions…that over the period of a year, we should have upward of 1000 persons going to British Columbia, who would be working in the hospitality, construction and agriculture industries,” he informed.

According to Minister Kellier, the agreement will seek to address labor shortages in British Columbia, which has an aging population. “British Columbia has a very thriving economy but an aging population and as such, they are in need of a lot of workers. The workforce is about to retire (about a million people) and they are only capable of filling that gap with about 690,000 persons, so there is a huge gap in terms of filling their needs right across the sectors,” he pointed out.

He informed that already, 150 skilled construction workers have been recruited and are expected to leave for British Columbia in the next couple of months, while the Ministry will be establishing a liaison office in the province, to deal with recruitment issues.

While Jamaicans have, over the years, have been recruited to work in the provinces of Ontario, Montreal, Quebec and New Brunswick on the agricultural program, this is the first time that workers are being requested for the hospitality and construction sectors.

As such, a partnership has been forged to ensure the certification of the workers. Minister Kellier said that persons applying to work in hospitality and construction must have a level 2 certification from the HEART/Trust NTA, while those interested in the agricultural program must have experience in the field.

“We have determined, among the Ministry, HEART Trust and the Okanogan College [in British Columbia], we would work together to see to the certification [of workers].here in Jamaica so that when the recruitment process starts, there would be no need for re-training when they arrive in Canada, but they would be ready to go directly into the workforce,” Mr. Kellier told JIS News.

In addition to these areas, Minister Kellier said that employers are also interested in recruiting practical nurses to work in the health sector.
“Persons within the health sector also spoke with us and they are interested in seeing how we can develop a program to help them as well in the area of practical nursing. We’re having discussions on that and those will be pursued.

All in all, the business community in British Columbia are very much interested in getting some of our workers engaged in British Columbia,” he noted.

Further on training, Minister Kellier noted that Jamaica has entered into an agreement with the Okanogan College in Canada, to facilitate the transfer of students between the two countries, starting this academic year.

“There was also an agreement for a student exchange program to take place whereby students from Jamaica would go to the Okanogan College as well as students would come from the college to Jamaica for training,” he informed.

“That would serve to open the gates for expansion in the future, and once the first phase, which is a pilot is successful, then it is expected that it will continue overtime,” he stated.

In the meantime, Minister Kellier said that on July 17, Jamaica will be participating in a high level meeting with employers from Vancouver, who will be engaging the Ministry’s liaison officers based in this area, in discussions pertaining to labor and recruitment.

Persons interested in participating in the Overseas Employment Programme should visit the Labour and Social Security’s office located in their parish.

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