While noting the importance of politicians undertaking short-term initiatives to be re-elected, Minister of Natural Resources and Labour Dr Kedrick Pickering said long-term plans are also needed to ensure future generations of the British Virgin Islands are not placed at a disadvantage.
Among the development plans that Dr Pickering is touting is to ensure the Labour Department is “no longer seen as a work permit processing unit, but a department that is looking at the future of the country and helping to prepare our people for the jobs down the road”.
The minister said, considering those plans, he is moving to ensure the name of the labour department is changed to the Department of Labour and Workforce Development.
“That long view and short view is extremely important. And so, because I am in charge of the responsibility of the labour issues in this country, we are working diligently to ensure that we do our part. One of the things we are going to do is change the name of the department from the Department of Labour to the Department of Labour and Workforce Development, so that we have a better understanding of the jobs that are going to be created, [and] the skills set that are needed for the country to encourage our people to prepare themselves…” Dr Pickering said.
He also stated that it is paramount for the various departments of government to collaborate to address labour issues affecting the territory.
“[We are implementing measure] so that the work that is being done in education, the work that is being done in health and other areas will coordinate with what is happening in Labour to ensure that the jobs are being filled. Otherwise, we are building an economy where our people are still going to be left behind,” Dr Pickering recently said in the House of Assembly.
During a recent Standing Finance Committee meeting, Labour Commissioner Janice Rymer agreed with Junior Minister of Tourism Archibald Christian that 11,176 work permit applications were processed last year. Of that number, 10,434 applications were approved.
Election has a role
Meanwhile, Dr Pickering, who is also deputy premier and representative of the Seventh Electoral District, indicated that elections play a role in determining the type of projects an elected representative undertakes in the short term.
“We need to have a long view as well as a short view. All of us want to get re-elected; none of us in here (House of Assembly) wants to walk away from being re-elected, and so we have to have a short view in terms of the things we need to do to get elected.”
“We also have to have a long view in terms of the things that are important to continue to build the country, and that the next generation when we pass it on to them they can run their leg of the relay and feel comfortable that they are winning the race. We don’t want to put them behind,” Dr Pickering further told his colleagues in the House of Assembly.
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