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TCI Labour Market shortages impacting Electricity provider, FortisTCI 

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – In the wake of their new apprenticeship program energy company FortisTCI has revealed they are woefully short on skilled labour. Representatives of the company spoke at the apprenticeship launch explaining the difficulty the company is facing.

“Recruitment is one of the things that we do have challenges with, particularly in the technical area.  The engineers, the linesmen, the operators, we are limited locally with finding those skills…the labour market is under tremendous stress right now, it has been a difficult challenge for us.”  Fortis TCI President and CEO Ruth Forbes said.

While she could not provide a concrete number on how many unfilled positions existed she explained what the company needed.

“We have talked a lot about transitioning to more sustainable sources of energy, we are looking for skills in that area, also on the data analytics side and we’re always looking for engineers, technicians, I.T. persons, cybersecurity,” she explained “we’re also looking for skills on the business side, we have accounting roles that are currently open that we are unable to fill because we can’t find any qualified accountants and the list goes on.”

In terms of how badly the lack of workers is affecting them Forbes said they had been able to manage so far despite the fact that it was not ideal. In the meantime persons in the company we’re taking it as an opportunity to upskill themselves and Fortis was able to promote a batch of nine individuals recently.

FortisTCI has a history of seeing opportunities for growth in talented young people and providing them with opportunities to hone their talents but with the advent of this worker shortage they are going a step further to grow the skills base in the Turks and Caicos.   A FortisTCI university is ‘most definitely’ in the works they say.

The shortage is not due to them losing employees at all as young people employed to the company have glowing reviews of their workspace. Director of Human Resources Claudia Munnings explained that the company was enthusiastic about creating an environment for growth.

“One of the things that we are focusing on is our employee experience and transforming that experience… the thing that most motivates persons is the opportunity for growth.. you can grow where you are planted and it’s very important for people to accept the opportunity to grow in the areas where they are and embrace those opportunities for training, learning and development so that when the opportunity arises to move upward they are prepared for it . That is something that we have pushed.”

Munnings explained that they were constantly pushing their employees further in their careers but the gap persists. The recently announced apprenticeship program at FortisTCI is one step in closing the gap.

“One of the things that we are looking at as an extension is extending some of the training courses we have internally to members of the public.”

While the construction of a university remains in the works they are currently working on other way to funnel students into the industry.

“We see ourselves strengthening our relationships with the TCI Community College and with High Schools and even the primary schools, getting in there as soon as we can. We’re always looking for ways to bridge the talent gap in the Turks and Caicos Islands. ”

The TVET program by the TCICC is one the company has its eye on currently as well.  For people already qualified FortisTCI is still accepting applications for its apprenticeship program, which offers Associate and Bachelor’s degree graduates an opportunity to experience the business environment within its three major divisions, the job will begin on August 2, 2022 with the top 4 candidates.

They will be allowed to work for a period of two (2) years and will rotate within a specific division for the first 6-12 months for broad exposure with a specific placement for the subsequent 12 months based on their proficiency. Munnings promised it would pay well with many of the benefits afforded to employees.

Caribbean News

Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne 

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.  The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.

Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.

Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Bahamas News

Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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