Minister of Labour & Immigration Vincent Wheatley said it has been a challenge for him to get businesses in the British Virgin Islands to hire locals.
In a recent television interview, Wheatley said he and his ministry have noticed that some businesses have been intentionally failing to hire locals, which is becoming a problem.
“I’ll say this very frankly, there are some companies who have no intention absolutely of hiring local persons qualified or not, and that cannot be allowed to be continued,” the minister said.
“I am hearing it too often where there are locals who are in positions and there are not being allowed to advance to the next level. They (businesses) want to bring in somebody else from outside when there are definite confirmed qualified locals,” he added.
Expats preferred because of less labour costs
Wheatley said the practice is in all sectors and he believes businesses prefer to hire expats over locals from a cost-saving standpoint.
“As a former business owner myself, I have hired both locals and expats. What we have discovered over the years is that they prefer to hire an expat worker versus a local worker because they feel that they can pay them a little less because in the work permit, they have a little more control over them,” he explained.
He continued: “They tend not to want to hire locals because the locals would demand more money, but you also get a lot of times where you get good value for money but sometimes it would go the other way.”
Recipe to create a problem in the BVI
Minister Wheatley further said if locals continue to get overlooked for jobs in the territory, it will create a big problem for the BVI.
He, therefore, called on business owners to give locals a chance.
“If they need training, provide the training for them or give me a road map on how you plan to train these persons to advance their careers,” the minister urged.
“But some are saying, ‘I want to bring my friend. I’ve known this person all my life. We work well together. I want to bring that person with me’. How can that work? If our people remain at home or remain stagnant and outsiders keep coming in and going over them, it is going to create a problem for all of us. We don’t need that,” he explained.
The minister’s statements follow reports that operators of local ice cream parlour, ManJack Creamery has decided to close down because the Department of Labour was denying them from hiring a non-local.
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