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Recovery more than a year away, says Hayward

  • Stark reality: Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Government has a lot of work to do to get unemployed Bermudians back to work, the labour minister said last night.

Jason Hayward said in an online question-and-answer session yesterday that he believed the island’s economic recovery was still more than a year away.

Asked for his “crystal ball” prediction, Mr Hayward said: “It’s going to get worse for another year and a half before things really get better.

“So 2022 will be the earliest signs of economic recovery.”

Jason Hayward, said that the Government had expected more Bermudians to return to the workforce before the country went into Phase 4 today.

But he said between Covid-related layoffs and previous unemployment issues, about 9,000 people remain out of work.

Mr Hayward said: “It’s a stark reality. It’s more people that attend a Cup Match game at any particular time.

“There will be people who require additional services, and we need to prepare ourselves as a government to ensure no one is left behind, but it will be difficult.

“Unless we have economic growth, which creates job growth in out economy, this problem will be with us for some time.”

He said one of the issues facing the island is that there was not an alternative industry to take in those in the hotel sector left unemployed.

Mr Hayward assured the viewers that the Government will put in place measures to help get Bermudians back to work, as well as mechanisms to help them until they find a job.

He said one issue facing young Bermudians was the “experience barrier” with employers seeking workers with three to five years experience in the field.

But he said the Government would actively push for businesses to hire of Bermudians and would be proactive in its efforts to get Bermudians employed and promoted.

Mr Hayward said that the deadline for enrolment in the unemployment benefit programme, other resources will be made available to help struggling Bermudians in the future.

Asked about outsourcing, Mr Hayward said the Government wants to ensure jobs remain on island but it is difficult to regulate.

“What we can certainly do is encourage businesses to retain employment levels in Bermuda,” he said.

“What we will do is have direct conversation with industry about what their needs might be and facilitate those jobs remaining in Bermuda.”

Mr Hayward said legislation to address the issues facing mixed-status families has been approved by legislators, but the application process is not expected to come into operation until mid-August.

He explained that part of the reason for the delay was the desire to have the application process handled electronically.

Mr Hayward added that comprehensive immigration reform work is still under way, and attention has been given to how the process can be streamlined.