Acting Minister of Tourism Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner has dismissed suggestions that having approximately 4,000 job seekers show up for the Sandals’ job fair at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre reflected negatively on the employment situation in Barbados.
Saying that she was “shocked but pleasantly surprised” at the turn out, Sandiford-Garner said it simply meant there was still a large number of Barbadians who were very much interested in working in the tourism industry.
“The job situation everywhere in the world is a tough one. You have millions of people being laid off everywhere else in the world so I don’t know that Barbados could be any exception,” she told reporters.
“We are 166 square miles with about 300,000 persons with only about 50,000 of them eligible to work. We have an economy that does not have any manufacturing element. We don’t export anything [and] we are not planting anything. Therefore, you will find that there are some jobs that people will gravitate towards and we need to now examine how we view employment because all of these people will never be employed in one chain.
“I think that we, as Barbadians, need to sit down and seriously think about the fact that self-employment definitely will be the avenue that many of us will have to take. So I don’t know that it says anything negative about the employment situation here. It just speaks to the reality of the global situation,” added Sandiford-Garner.
Stories of people who have been out of work for long periods were the order of the day at the job fair.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY while waiting to be interviewed, 28-year-old Kera Thompson said she has been unemployed for the past five years and was hoping she would be successful.
“I applied to a lot of places and I haven’t gotten any answer so I am hoping that I get through with something here today,” she said, adding that she worked in the hotel industry before.
Ryan Charles, 30, has been out of work for the past year and four months. He said with his experience at front desk in the hotel industry it was his hope that he could get a job with Sandals in the same position or as a bellman.
Meanwhile, Leslie-Ann Hutson, who worked seasonally with retail store Cave Shepherd and has been out of work since last month, told Barbados TODAY she was “looking for something that is more permanent”.
She expected the fair would have attracted a lot of people so she arrived at 8 am, but was surprised at how quickly the crowds swelled.