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Karim tackles T&T’s labour shortage
Tertiary Education and Skills Training Minister Fazal Karim says there is no need for T&T to import skilled labour. Speaking at the official opening of National Energy Skills Center’s (NESC) first jobs fair in Couva on Wednesday, Karim said: “It is through these jobs fairs that we are going to address our labour shortage in Trinidad and Tobago.” The minister said Government had heard complaints from employers about a shortage of labour, with one even planning to import labour. “We should not pursue the importation of any labour, especially if we have graduates of our institutions seeking job opportunities, many of whom are unknown to these employers,” he said.
While admitting that importation of labour had been going on for decades in T&T, the minister said the country had the potential to be a net exporter of skilled labour. He pointed out that skilled workers from T&T could be found globally in the energy industry. The minister said there were plans for the NESC to establish training facilities in the region and some African states to boost skills in those countries. He expressed the view that training should be demand driven to meet the needs of the job market. Karim said job fairs served as a useful contact point between employers and graduates, providing the ideal meeting point for employers to meet potential employees. He said the NESC jobs fair was the first in a series to be hosted by agencies under his ministry.
The minister also announced that several projects were scheduled for next month including the launch of Petro UT and the opening of the Centre for Workforce Research and Development (CWRD) which would ensure there was reliable empirical data about what the labour market requires. The NESC offers more than 15 training programmes in various skill areas including welding, automotive services technology, electrical installation, industrial mechanical maintenance, sound recording and music production. Chairman Feeroz Khan highlighted the importance of dealing with the labour shortage by training young people in areas in which there was demand. “I’m pleased to note that of the 862 persons who are here graduating or projected to graduate we have 476 employers interested in their skills. It is a ratio of about 5 to 1,” he said.