JCTU supports inward migration as economic development strategy

BY DURRANT PATE
Observer business writer

Sunday, September 22, 2019

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The Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) has added its voice to the ongoing debate over the issue of Jamaica adopting a policy of inward migration as an economic development strategy.

JUTC President Helene Davis-Whyte pointed out that in the past the JCTU was concerned about outward migration and the concurrent brain drain effect. However, the confederation is now cognisant of the need for inward migration to address the skills gap existing in the economy.

She pointed out that the union remains protective of jobs for locals but cannot remain silent about the need to fill vacant skilled positions with foreigners who possess such skills. Addressing the Planning Institute of Jamaica Seventh Labour Market Forum on Wednesday at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, Davis-Whyte emphasised that labour migration has gained increasing global importance.

She explained that this has been a sticking point at the Economic Growth Council, where she sits as the trade unions' representative.

“At the Economic Growth Council, one of the issues raised when looking at economic growth is inward migration because research data shows that in particular areas, we are seriously way behind in the provision of skilled labour,” the JUTC president lamented.

She noted this is particularly worrisome when it is time to fill these skilled labour positions once investors come into Jamaica to set up business.

Davis-Whyte made the point that inward migration has to become a central part of any economic growth strategy and part of the national debate in debunking concerns about foreigners coming in to take over jobs for Jamaicans.

She argued that inward migration is essential in the development of economies but must be balanced with the vast majority of unskilled labour that a country like Jamaica possesses.

According to the trade unionist, “When the issue of inward migration is raised in Jamaica, there is the concern among employees whether they would be displaced.”

Davis-Whyte expressed the hope that the Labour Market Forum will come away with plans and programmes that will address these very important issues of inward migration.


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