We need work – now: Hundreds left waiting hours in GB jobs fair


Tribune Freeport Reporter


HUNDREDS of job seekers attended the “Labour on the Blocks” job fair in Grand Bahama over the weekend in hopes of finding employment and to be registered in the Department of Labour’s databank.

Men and women stood in long lines under the hot sun, some with umbrellas, for about six hours on Saturday at the Susan J Wallace Community Centre and Park. The long queues were a painful indication of how bleak the employment situation in Grand Bahama is, said Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine.

While officials have touted the success of the initiative – Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes has said about 800 people have been hired from previous job fairs – Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Davis has complained Saturday’s event was held at a poor location, and questioned if it was a public relations exercise as opposed to offering tangible employment opportunities.

Mr McAlpine shared similar concerns.

“It was a good idea getting a better sense of the people who are still seeking employment in Grand Bahama,” Mr McAlpine, a Free National Movement MP, said yesterday. “I don’t know that we can say the job fair was a success because to see those numbers were disheartening - it tells you how bad things are in Grand Bahama.

“I would rather see less people coming to the job fair, but to see those hundreds of people, perhaps maybe as high as 1,000, seeking jobs does not speak well of what’s happening in Grand Bahama from an economic perspective.”

He said location chosen for the job fair was not the best, as job seekers had to stand outside for hours.

“We should have been a little more considerate of people,” he said. “Persons having to stand in the sun for hours from one to five hours was a very bad thing to do.

“I was taking water to people and making sure they were comfortable and talking to people as well. They were disappointed because there were not 20 companies there, and the reality was that these are companies in Grand Bahama, with exception of Baha Mar, that many persons have already given their resume to, so maybe it was just to receive data.

“The question that needs to be asked is how many persons were hired on the spot. I have not heard of anyone being hired on the spot,” Mr McAlpine said.

For his part, Mr Davis said those attending the job fair were dealt with in a “demeaning” way, as he questioned the point of the event.

“Having fired in excess of 2,500 persons (from the civil service) without seeking to find jobs for them, what hope is engendered by these job fairs sponsored by the government?

“. . . The exercise in Freeport was demeaning and degrading to our people,” Mr Davis said. “It insults the intelligence of our people because even in their desperation to find work, they all know that these job fairs will produce little in terms of concrete work.”

Mr Foulkes and Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson attended the event, which aims to establish an electronic databank and get people in contact with employers.

There were representatives of some 12 organisations and companies at the event.

Among them were officials from the Freeport Container Port, Grand Bahama Shipyard, Grand Bahama Airport Company, National Workers Credit Union, University of the Bahamas, Baha Mar, Rev/Aliv, Freeport Ship Services, Pelican Bay Resort, Pineyard Technical Centre, Candid Security and Global Tech.

Mr Foulkes walked about the park and spoke with some of the job seekers.

“We know there is an unemployment problem here and this event was well publicised, and we gave flyers to each MP to give out in their districts,” he said.

“The main thing about this is the databank; we have a central databank we paid a lot for, and we set up a desk to assist persons in creating an email. Some are getting an email for the first time in their life - they will be in our system forever.”

Mr Foulkes said the Department of Labour through the databank would be able to assist employers seeking individuals for specific job positions at their businesses and keep a record of those that are unemployed.

“If an employer is looking for a clerk or receptionist of a particular age, the candidates will immediately pop up in the databank, and we can we send them out to that particular business,” he explained.

Grand Bahama’s unemployment rate stands at 12.1 per cent, down from 12.5 per cent. Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis recently said that while there was a slight decline in the figure, many are still unemployed on the island, however he believes the unemployment figures are trending in the right direction.

Mr Thompson was pleased with the turnout on Saturday and expected that some persons would be hired at the end of the day.

“I am extremely happy with the turnout today. There are hundreds of people out here which speaks to a couple of things: it speaks to people’s hope that there are some positive things that are going to happen in GB. It does also, though, speak to the fact there are still too many people unemployed,” he said.

Mr Thompson believes the initiative is necessary for Grand Bahama.

“I congratulate the minister of labour for this important initiative, and I am hopeful that out of today’s event ... we see some positive effects,” he said.

Another job fair is scheduled for Saturday, February 24 in New Providence at the Golden Gates Park, opposite Golden Gates Assembly Church, Carmichael Road from 11am to 3pm.

Previous job fairs were held in Bain and Grants Town and the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.


John says...

Jobs, jobs jobs! Seem to be a key to reducing the crime problem and other social ills it brings with it... drug and alcohol abuse among. And apparently the highest unemployment is among the young, inner city dwellers and the least skilled. Government can assist if it starts some of the road works and other infrastructure work it has proposed in New Providence and on the family. There has to be sufficient work going on simultaneously so as to hire enough workers to affect the unemployment numbers and stimulate the economy.

Posted 19 February 2018, 11:10 a.m. Suggest removal

TalRussell says...

In name Ma Comrade Sweet Jesus, KP and Minnis couldn't restart the much promised tech nor hotel paycheques - so sudden, urgent out Imperial red cabinet call redirect their focus to expanding the peddling of 'sludge' onto the pristine beaches Grand Bahama - in the meantime the long lineups to Freeport's Soup Lines will have to continue. There is a great danger to brungs great hurt into waters and beaches when "slugging permits" be granted to foreigners with little to no experience in the ever present dangers slugging operations - and by a red government ZERO environment safeguards in place. God, send-in the Queen to save Grand Bahamians. Somebody needs start a give-away of Union Jacks - throughout Grand Bahama. Jack Hayward - just has never work for Freeporters.

Posted 19 February 2018, 11:36 a.m. Suggest removal

TigerB says...

There is no place for pride when there is bills to be paid, if they had had that job fair in hell and persons need and wanted a job they would stand and wait. That's how it works. I see the MP complains a lot about situations. I sent several people there. They just want something to do. Then there is that Brave fella, as always he sees things in red and gold!

Posted 19 February 2018, 11:58 a.m. Suggest removal

OMG says...

Brave you obviously have memory loss. Your corrupt lot hired over 2000 persons just before the election when there were no positions and simply to garner votes. Job losses are tragic yes but most ministries are still way over staffed and paid for by our taxes. Still you have to find something to bitch about in a vain attempt to claw back any credibility for the PLP. If you had been re elected then the country would be in an almost bankrupt spiral

Posted 19 February 2018, 12:16 p.m. Suggest removal

joeblow says...

Of course people need jobs, but how many are willing to WORK!

Posted 19 February 2018, 12:28 p.m. Suggest removal

DDK says...

There is that, but in fairness there are many who are willing to work! Not knowing where your next dollar will come from is not a good feeling. The whole job ethics thing in the Bahamas needs a GOOD overhaul. I know, easier said than done but there must be a starting point somewhere. It took decades to cultivate...........

Posted 20 February 2018, 3:11 p.m. Suggest removal

TalRussell says...

Ma Comrades, Nine-months out from May 10, 2017 general elections when thousands in Grand Bahama were so mad at the PLP - they actually voted for KP and other reds when a lot of things were going bad all around them only to now wake up to head out - not to sustainable jobs- but lineup in Soup Lines. {Soup Lines are not a made up thing that while Constituents numbering hundreds lined up waiting kindness warm bowl soup - Imperial red MP's were feasting from House of Assembly table free lunch all paid for by out public purse}.

Posted 19 February 2018, 12:45 p.m. Suggest removal

stillwaters says...

Unless the government makes an effort to uplift and make it easier for small businesses to operate at a profit, the unemployment numbers will grow. There is no magical pot of jobs out there anymore, nor is there a magical pot of government jobs.Tourists are not coming here in droves anymore, so there is no magical pot of hotel jobs. Bunch of illiterates coming out of school every year. Go figure, then, where jobs are going to come from.

Posted 19 February 2018, 12:48 p.m. Suggest removal

realfreethinker says...

At they are trying. I guess people like mcalpine and brave want the government to stop by the homes of these people. If the civil service is bloated and the government see fit to down size, why is it their responsibility to find jobs for them.

Posted 19 February 2018, 1:15 p.m. Suggest removal

TheMadHatter says...

I think the job fair was a good thing. A good idea by govt and it illuminated the problem more.

At the same time, if any thought it was demeaning - wait until they get a job. Employers know you have no options and so many of them treat employees like dirt. Im sure joeblow would not agree - based on his comment. It's bad on both sides - and education is a big part of the problem. Lacking on both sides.

There are so many good professionals out there who could do wonders in the classroom - but we have prehistoric teacher qualifications in their way. I guess u need a teaching certificate to know how to make that D+

Posted 19 February 2018, 1:17 p.m. Suggest removal

joeblow says...

If you have ever been an employer you would have some insight into the other side of the coin. Many who want jobs especially at entry level are ill prepared for them, in speech, deportment, critical thinking, willingness to learn and even hygienic practices! Petty theft (not just of time) is another major problem employers have to deal with. Employers know how difficult it is to find good employees and will not let them go easily! Many employers suffer from 'bad employee fatigue'!

Posted 19 February 2018, 8:36 p.m. Suggest removal

TalRussell says...

Ma Comrades, call me crazy, but I thought the purpose of a 'job fair' was to actually meet the people offering the jobs?
Eventually Freeport will be abandoned by its foreigner government - so why wait economic bust sidelines 10 years to begin the recolonialization? Only the natives can save Freeport. Big oil sludge and tourism impossible promote in same ad to the world.

Posted 19 February 2018, 1:45 p.m. Suggest removal

TigerB says...

That is my point, not sure even why the MP McAlpine even makin noise, our folks here hurtin' Freeport

Posted 19 February 2018, 1:45 p.m. Suggest removal

stillwaters says...

I don't know.......there are just no jobs out there. Population is too big for the limited amount of jobs, and it's going to get worse. More layoffs as tourism dwindles and dwindles. Tourism and banks were our two main industries. Banks almost done in this country and tourism drying up.It's scary.

Posted 19 February 2018, 2:10 p.m. Suggest removal

TalRussell says...

ma Comrades, BORCO set the wage standard but it never accounted for more than 1.8% of the jobs entire population Grand Bahama. The sludge oil business is not a job quantity producing industry... much better known as where the politicians likes best cozy up to around donation campaign
pass the hat times.

Posted 19 February 2018, 2:21 p.m. Suggest removal

sheeprunner12 says...


Posted 19 February 2018, 6:34 p.m. Suggest removal

The_Oracle says...

The reliance on government to provide "jobs" is the first fallacy and failure we have invited and must now suffer..
Politicizing permits, licenses, jobs, schools and teaching, hospitals, Banks!
We are only reaping what we have sown.

Posted 19 February 2018, 7:10 p.m. Suggest removal

joeblow says...

There are many things the government fails at, but the biggest is the failure to provide the environment in which Bahamian businesses can grow. I suspect they haven't figured out the correlation between small and medium business growth and reduced unemployment.

It is much easier to do business in this country if you are not Bahamian!

Posted 19 February 2018, 9:18 p.m. Suggest removal

bogart says...

.....another is the failure to do 5, 10, 15.......year plans....simply look at the ages of the population .......from those at birth...school....graduate....enter the woork force...retire etc and make provisions for the future. Lack of planning, vision to provide ....for the electorate and families while collecting a paychect from the same taxpayers is not good.

Posted 20 February 2018, 10:28 a.m. Suggest removal

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