With the Freundel Stuart administration examining state-owned entities with a view of merging or disposing of some of them in an effort to curtail spending, the National Employment Bureau (NEB), the Government agency tasked with helping jobseekers find work, is getting a new image.
A key part of the transformation is a new name for the unit, which will now be called the Barbados Employment and Career Counselling Service (BECCS) department.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour Yolande Howard said the rebranding was the first in a series of initiatives to improve its image, quality and relevance.
The upgrade of the state-owned employment agency forms part of the wider Human Development Strategy in the Ministry of Labour and is being funded through the European Union and the Inter-American Development Bank.
“An important element of this rebranding exercise is the demonstration of the role that the new entity, BECCS, will play in the administration of this country’s active labour market policies,” Howard told a stakeholders’ seminar at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday morning.
The top civil servant said a comprehensive review of the existing organizational structure and operations was continuing, adding that officials were in the process of identifying any additional resources required to strengthen the agency, to include the training of existing staff, and the use of technology to improve service.
She said while the BECCS was being strategically placed to make “a valued contribution to the growth of the Barbados economy”, it was facing a number of constraints that have limited its ability to provide sustained quality employment services and to adequately respond to social and economic issues such as poverty and unemployment.
“These factors include inadequate human resources, a weak presence in the labour market, weak linkages with training institutions and the inflexibility and inefficiency of predominantly manual information systems, among others. It is expected that the continuing capacity building in which we are now engaged will lead to an improvement in services and how these services are offered,” Howard said.
“All in all the restructuring and institutional strengthening of the NEB will ensure that the new public employment service, BECCS, is better able to fulfill its mandate,” she stressed.
Meantime, Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo defended the relevance of the NEB, saying, like education, it was one of the most important social development agencies on the island.
“If education is the key to success, employment is the door that must be opened with that key. The NEB is particularly vital in times of high unemployment and high youth unemployment. It is a part of our social protection,” Byer-Suckoo said.
“The NEB helps people find their way in the world, achieve a desired standard of living and contribute to home and society. This is a specialized service and we have been focused on building this capacity in the NEB including training officers in career counselling and other areas.
“The NEB helps give the unemployed a fish through the unemployment benefit, it teaches them how to fish by facilitating training and if I may stretch the analogy, it helps that person to find work as a fisherman also. Truly a key social and development agency,” she added.