PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, have been undertaking several actions to ensure that local job seekers are included in job opportunities that arise as a result of the current reconstruction process of the country.
The Division Labor Affairs & Social Services has conducted a National Registration Drive to assess the immediate availability of skilled persons on the local labor market. The registration drive yielded mixed results, but by and large provided evidence that there are insufficient skilled laborers on the local labor market to address the demand for skills in several industries, primarily, the Construction industry.
“There are several programs in place that offer a combination of job-training and paid employment as part of the reconstruction projects within several industries institutions locally. Job seekers have the opportunity to learn new skills and join new trades. We have been working together with institutions such as the White & Yellow Cross, NIPA and have also sent several persons abroad to Trinidad for training. However, this is not enough as larger reconstruction projects requiring for example, skilled construction personnel, electricians etc. The local market alone may not be able to meet these needs. The Ministry encourages these employers to host registration drives and training programs, in order to make the extra effort to employ local laborers. We want to ensure that all is done to include our people.” – Minister Emil Lee
The ability to source qualified and certified laborers for the rebuilding of our major infrastructure is key to our recovery as a Nation. To this effect, the Ministry, under the auspices of the Division Labor Affairs & Social Services, has invoked of the National decree containing general measures on the employment of foreign labor AB 2013 nr 73 article 7 paragraph 3 . This allows the Ministry to approve an employment permit on a one-time basis for projects related to the reconstruction.
“The idea is that we would be able to give one time permits for people that are participating on a project basis for the reconstruction of a particular project. This measure would not only be considered for construction workers but other trades as well. We believe that we are striking a balance between stimulating the recovery process while protecting our local labor market. We do not expect that persons will remain in the country once the project is complete, it is important that we protect our local labour market.” – Minister Emil Lee
This is being done on an exceptional term only, and the respective applicant (employer/business owner) must comply with the following requirements in order to facilitate the processing of the permits under these conditions:
- Valid labor registration
- Registration of the business on www.jobopportunity.sx(note that based on the position outline, the Ministry may opt to waive the 5 weeks hold for positions that are directly required within the reconstruction process)
- Completed Employment permit application form & overview of education
- Payment of all taxes of the business
- Payment of the applicable processing fee to the Government of Sint Maarten
- Statement of guarantee of housing for the non-nationals signed off by the registered owner of the business
- Copies passports of non-nationals tied to the project
- Copies of flight itinerary
- Copies of certificates, diplomas & qualifications
- Certified English translations of the above point 9, by a legally registered translator, if document not in English
- The credentials of the legally registered translator
- Complete Project plans, mentioning duration of the project
“The Ministry has the option to waive the five week holding period for positions that are directly needed within the reconstruction process. We continue to stress that it is important for employers to try all avenues to recruit local workers, but we also want to work together towards ultimately stimulating the recovering economy. It is also important that the housing market is not distorted by incoming foreign workers. We already have a very limited housing capacity and we do not want to see unfair competition within the rental market which would have adverse effects for locals seeking affordable housing. This is an important topic of discussion that must continue when foreign workers are being brought in.” – Minister Emil Lee
Once all the documentation is submitted by the entity, the applicant, the Ministry will try to process the permits within a 10-day period. The ministry is very sensitive to the fact that if we do not respond quickly a timely give answers quickly that that would impact the supply of labor available for we construction process and so the ministry is committed to doing whatever we can to facilitate the process in an efficient manner for all.
The Ministry will continue with the initiatives and programs already in place to train locals in the reconstruction trades to ensure that they can participate in our reconstruction economy. Persons are encouraged to apply online via www.jobopportunity.sx and attend the organized job fairs and get access to employers who are seeking local workers and those with residence permits.