PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The Department of Labor Affairs hosted its much anticipated Start Here Campaign Registration Drive on September 3, 2015 at the Clem Labega Square. The objective of the Start Here Campaign is multi-dimensional, and the scheduled Registration drive attempted to fulfil the first of four (4) predefined phases, namely , boosting of the Department’s Registered Job Seekers. As a result of the Registration drive the database now has an additional 319 registrants.
The Department of Labor Affairs has analyzed the information garnered from the Registration drive, and has made a total of 102 position matches of registrants to suitable vacancies at the Department, representing a total of 83 persons matched. Of the total matched persons 32 were males and 51 females, with age ranges primarily in the 16- 24 years category (35 persons ), in the 25 – 34 years category ( 28 persons ), in the 35 – 44 year category (9 persons) and eleven (11 persons) having an age range of 45 – 59 years.
The majority of the matched persons are also holders of a formal education, having attained a degree in Academic Secondary school ( 44), and Associates (16) , Bachelors ( 20) and a Masters ( 1), and Vocational /Sundial (2). A total of 131 persons were not matched , and this due to several reasons, including 1) no suitable match to registered vacancies ( e.g. lack of experience, below educational requirement for the vacancy) , 2) registered person indicated not being interested , as they are currently employed, or 3) the registered person is already duly employed and seeking a career change , but no interested career track was identified.
The business community registered several vacancies with the Department of Labor Affairs, ranging from entry level positions, to Supervisory and mid-management positions to more senior management positions. The 102 position matches were made to twenty-five (25) businesses , representing 38 varied positions, and all 83 matched persons received notifications of their business match. The respective businesses received notification of the match as well, and were contacted by the Department in order to set up interviews for the respective registrants.
To date only eighteen (18) businesses conducted interviews , and responded to our request for interview dates, leading to only six (6) positions being filled. Furthermore, we note that over 105 of the registrants are not suitable for immediate placement in the Labor Market, due to poor educational background, most having only completed Primary School. The persons placed in this category will be invited to attend an information session at the Department to include tips on preparing for interviews and the labor market.
The session , will provide them with an opportunity to gain more insight on other opportunities available to them , including the LATP ( Labor Affairs Training Program) , a resource with proven success on readying persons for the labor market. The LATP success rate is 70% of all trained persons receiving gainful employment in their respective areas. The Department of Labor Affairs continues to work on several avenues to stimulate the job placement activities, and as such , sought endorsement of its SHC ( Start Here Campaign) from the SHTA. We are pleased that the SHTA has endorsed this initiative, and moreover have or have moved forward with our public-private partnership, established since 2012, to include strategic discussions to address the needs 2 | P a g e of both partners.
This public-private partnership between the Department of Labor Affairs and SHTA has made it possible for both to partake collaboratively in a Job Fair, held on October 24, 2015. The Department of Labor Affairs took part in this initiative , and was also able to garner information , including total number of participating businesses , being sixteen (16) of the 130+ registered member businesses of the SHTA. We are grateful for the effort made by those member businesses who did participate, however more is needed. Noticeably absent from the Job Fair were IMA ( Indian Merchant Association), key players in the Marine Industry, major Insurance companies, as well as Security Companies.
Additionally, most visitors to the Job Fair were not interviewed ‘on the spot’ by the businesses, but were handed flyers and application forms, with the promise that they would be contacted for an interview at a later date. The department did also note that two large hotels in attendance had already hosted recruitment drives this year with mixed results in terms of available workers in certain fields. Possibly it is time to explore other avenues to source suitable candidates. It is the Department of Labor Affairs sincere hope that persons receive the all-important ‘call back’ and gain employment through this initiative, as it is only then that we can speak of a successful Job Fair and a successful Start Here Campaign.
The overall results, of both the Start Here Campaign Registration Drive and the SHTA / Labor Affairs Job Fair, could be more prolific an indication that the business community must take the matter of job placement serious, and must improve on their commitment to source suitable candidates from the local labor market, and specifically from the database of persons who are unemployed. It must also be noted that persons seeking employment need to understand the value of being suitably prepared for the world of work, with everything that entails, from suitable attire to professional resumes.
Special commendation should go out to the PSVE interview project for taking a conscious look at this as a need within the educational system.
Unemployment should be everyone’s concern, and therefore it is in the best interest of all stakeholders to renew their commitment to address this structurally and realistically.