Christopher Famous

No trade secret where we’re suffering in the workforce

  • Equal opportunities: we should encourage more of our females to get into the construction industry
  • Barbers can easily earn $30 per hour

If you build it they will come

Field of Dreams

It may be subjective whether or not they will come, but one thing for sure, you still have to build it.

To build “it”, one would have to have the skill set to build and maintain whatever “it” is. To have that skill set, one would have to be a tradesman of some sort.

Recently, there has been renewed conversation and focus on the need for more Bermudian tradesmen.

Building firm leaders should develop fresh talent and take control of their industry before others do, a construction company chief said yesterday.

Charles Dunstan said he wanted to see the creation of “industry-driven” occupational advisory committees for every trade that would allow experts in areas such as masonry, plumbing, carpentry and tiling to shape and set industry training standards

— Charles Dunstan, former chairman of the Construction Association of Bermuda (The Royal Gazette, December 6, 2018)

A few weeks later, the following was stated by Will Irvine, the executive director of the same CAB.

Construction is giving out hundreds of work permits a year and there is a population there that can easily be trained in a period of time that will allow them to work in that work-permit category

Seems pretty straightforward: Bermudians should be in the Bermudian construction industry.

Unfortunately, over the past two decades, fewer and fewer Bermudians have entered the construction industry. If we are to be brutally honest with ourselves, fewer and fewer Bermudians have gone into any of the trades that are required to keep the country up and running.

Let us take a quick look at some of the trades that are essential to our everyday living.

Whether you live in a one-bedroom or a mansion, it exists only because skilled tradesmen built it. The same goes for every single office building in Hamilton, no matter the size.

As a matter of fact, for you to get to or from work, social functions, churches or your local pub, you more than likely took some form or transport such as motorcycle, car, public bus or ferry. Every one of those vehicles has to be maintained and repaired by skilled auto technicians.

If you are reading this online, that is only because of some information technology workers building networks.

Even if you are reading this via print, there were skilled persons at The Royal Gazette last night who had to run a few different machines to produce hard copies six days a week.

To look their best, every day of the week, persons are going to barbers, hairdressers or nail technicians who are certified, skilled tradesmen and women.

You are, at this point, most likely, asking yourselves where am I going with this narrative.

As evidenced, through the words of Mr Dunstan and Mr Irvine, as a country we have a shortage of Bermudians in the trades. The knock-on effect is that we have thousands of non-Bermudians fully employed while thousands of Bermudians are either underemployed or unemployed.

It is easy for us to argue or debate about the loss of the Bermuda Technical Institute. However, those who decided to close it are mostly dead and gone, so we have to move forward.

The most important part of the solution is for us to encourage our children, both male and female, to look towards learning one or more skilled trades. Equally important would be for those who may find themselves underemployed or unemployed to look to retool in any given trade.

In upcoming columns, we will look at how persons can get into the various trades, and speak with different persons who have spent their lives in professions such as construction, auto mechanics and barbering.

In the meantime, hug your plumber; odds are you will need them in an emergency sooner or later.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm