Owner of International Motors, Neville Sorrentino believes the sense of ‘entitlement’ among British Virgin Islands natives is crippling their work ethics.
He said this sense of entitlement particularly reeks on the younger generation.
Sorrentino said while his remarks are not intended to bash, the matter is worrying.
He was speaking at a stakeholder’s consultation that was put on by the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies this week.
The consultation was to forge closer ties with the business community and to create workforce-ready students.
“Being here a long time, I feel like the BVIslander feel like he/she has an entitlement to something,” he said.
“My concern is [that], by giving our own people (BVIslanders) the feeling of right, we are actually educating them to a lower level and the people who really want to work and want to learn because they want to stay here are the people coming from outside.”
Territory will suffer
Sorrentino said the territory will suffer if the matter is not addressed urgently.
He further highlighted that good work ethics need to be instilled at a young age.
“You have to earn your position, you need to earn your place in the business world. We have to ensure that we educate the students coming through today and hopefully we have more BVIslanders taking up the positions that are available.”
He added: “We are going to be struggling all the time between what you are entitled to and what you should get.”
The businessman, who said he attended local schools and was raised in the territory, also said the entitlement issue stems from the home and the wider society.
“The problem with the young BVIslanders – they have never been without in all their lifetime and probably in their parents’ lifetime because the country is growing and growing. But now we are facing a situation that if they don’t qualify themselves, they will be without,” he noted.
Major attitude problem
In the meantime, Sorrentino said one of the other major issues affecting locals is their ‘attitude’.
“Unfortunately nowadays it is the attitude they have towards work – and their indiscipline. I think that this is one thing that we struggle here within the BVI,” he said.
“We can get more disciplined students if they understand good timekeeping and the reasons why they need to do certain things that they are told by their seniors,” he reasoned.
Rigid structures the remedy
The UK native suggested a rigid structure at home and in the work environment as a remedy.
Furthermore, the businessman pointed out that expatriate workers tend to work better than locals. He said that is reflected in some of his employees who have been working in his company for more than 20 years.
“We give preference to the BVIslanders [and] I want to employ BVIslanders as you need to support your local population. But it’s sad to say, I employ 60 people and the majority comes from down island. They are expats because they just seem to be the people who want to work.”
He concluded that his words were aimed to encourage the young people to do better.
“It is not to bash them but to encourage them and to make them realize that that’s the way the country will develop.”
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