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Gov't says more Jamaicans could be employed in Canada and US

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 | 4:38 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) — The Jamaican government says it is seeking to expand the overseas employment programme so that more nationals can benefit from employment opportunities in Canada and the United States.

Labour and Social Security Minister, Derrick Kellier, said the move comes as the demand for skilled Jamaicans continue to grow in the two North American countries.

He said the Canadian farm work programme should see a 10 to 15 per cent growth this year.

“The same goes for the United States where we were down a couple years ago, but the numbers are creeping up again and we expect to see, based on new legislations that President Obama is trying to get through the Congress and the Senate, additional opportunities for us here in Jamaica, if that legislation is approved. So, there is going to be growth.”

Kellier met with representatives of Caribbean Airlines (CAL) to formalise agreements for flying Jamaican workers to the US and Canada.

He pointed out that Canada, in particular, has a huge labour market that needs to be filled and that Jamaica is currently doing well in filling some of that demand, but “we can double the numbers in another three years”.

He said the programme is of mutual benefit to the countries involved, as it provides work for Jamaicans, so that they can take care of their families as well as help to generate economic activity within the US and Canada.

“So, it is a cross border win, win situation for both of us and hence we in Jamaica have something to protect and to uphold, to ensure that this programme runs smoothly and that it develops and expands for the benefit of all our citizens who have the ability to participate in it; and that the employers in North America can be satisfied that they get good quality workers to expand their business in a productive way.”

Kellier noted that the government has put in “a lot of effort to grow the programme,” and warned against any illegal activity that might compromise the programme.

“We have put in a lot of resources to ensure the integrity of the programme at all levels. We want to ensure that we stand up to the highest level at scrutiny… We cannot afford to have persons travelling on the aircraft with illegal substances,” he said, adding that the overseas employment programme benefits the country immensely, through the foreign exchange that is remitted.

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