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The Government's Unemployment Benefits Program a 'landmark' in the history of Bahamian labour
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 08:02

NASSAU, Bahamas -- The creation of the Government's Unemployment Benefits Program created in the Ministry of Labour and Social Development was a landmark in the history of Bahamian labour, Minister of Labour and Social Development Senator the Hon Dion Foulkes said. 

It was also in keeping with internationally recognized best practices to reduce the negative effects of the global economic crisis, he noted during his contribution to the 2009/2010 Mid-Year Budget in the Senate on Monday. 

This initiative and the National Training Program were created in conjunction with various trade unions and employers, he explained. 

“As of February 12 of this year, the National Insurance Board had helped over 15,000 unemployed Bahamians with cheques totalling over $22 million.  These funds were disbursed through NIB offices throughout the country.” 

He also pointed out that the Employment Exchange continues to assist job seekers.  Thousands of Bahamians continue to take advantage of this service. 

In terms of labour and social development, the Government has instituted various initiatives to relieve many of the problems associated with the economic downturn, Mr Foulkes said. 

“Among these are steps helping Bahamians to use their own innovative and imaginative skills and talent to become entrepreneurs and small business owners,” he said. 

For this reason the National Training Program was created, he explained. 

In the 2009/2010 budget, the Government allocated $250,000 to the training of unemployed workers. 

The Ministry formed a National Training Committee comprised of representatives from umbrella trade unions, the Bahamas Employers Confederation, representatives of The College of The Bahamas, The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and the Bahamas Christian Council. 

Mr Foulkes said, “The purpose of the committee was to investigate and recommend how best to implement a National Training Program.  So said!  So done!”

“I am pleased to report that the National Training Program is a success.  Over 700 participants were enrolled and more than 80 per cent completed the program with passing grades.  Courses were offered in New Providence, Exuma and Grand Bahama.” 

He explained that the majority of those enrolled were between the ages of 36 and 45, with several participants being over the age of 55.  The participants took courses at The College of The Bahamas and the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute. 

The subjects included block laying, accounting, straw and shell craft, welding computer applications, tiling and engine repair and learning QuickBooks. 

Mr Foulkes also supplied the Senate with the results of a survey taken by those who completed the program.

He said that three hundred evaluation forms were distributed and 270 were collected.  

“Of the 270 respondents, 263 said that the program was effective.  Only two individuals said it was not effective.  Over 270 respondents said the course increased their knowledge.   

“Best of all, 162 said the program was excellent, 92 said it was good, 13 said it was satisfactory, and one person found it unsatisfactory.  Only two people did not answer the question.” 

Some 100 persons who completed the program were identified to take part in the next step which is the Micro-finance and Entrepreneurship Program.  This follow-on program is aimed at creating more Bahamian entrepreneurs, he said. 

“Ninety-two persons have decided to take part and have already produced business plans and will be awarded grants based upon the viability of their plan,” Mr Foulkes added. 

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