Fri | Jan 18, 2019

More women to be recruited for overseas work

Published:Monday | January 8, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Labour Minister Shahine Robinson gets a hug from Donald Thomas, a 22-year veteran of the farm work programme. The first group of 300 seasonal farm workers left for Canada last week to take up employment opportunities under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme. They will be employed in greenhouse crop production, food processing, tobacco planting, vegetable farming and fruit tree cultivation.

The Government is working to increase the number of female participants in its overseas employment programme.

Administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the programme offers employment opportunities for Jamaicans in Canada and the United States of America in skilled and low-skill areas.

Males often feature prominently in the ministry's recruitment drives, with many taking up farm work jobs under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme (SAWP).

The SAWP involves contractual agricultural workers who are recruited to meet the short-term demand of manual labour during planting and harvesting seasons.

While females sometimes secure jobs in this area, they are normally required in the latter part of the season during the harvesting periods.

Portfolio Minister Shahine Robinson said there is now a call for more female workers, especially in Canada, and the Government is therefore pushing to have a greater number involved.

"The world is moving to have a gender balance in most operations and the Canadian government, as is the Jamaican Government, wants to have greater gender balance in this programme. We are working towards it," she said.

The minister was speaking following a send-off ceremony for the first batch of 300 farm workers who will take up employment opportunities in Canada for this year under the SAWP.

The ceremony was held at the labour ministry's Overseas Employment Services Centre in downtown Kingston last Wednesday.


Increasing the numbers


Robinson said that Canada's labour minister, Patricia Hajdu, has committed to helping the Jamaican Government to boost the programme's female contingent.

She noted as well that the new Canadian high commissioner to Jamaica, Laurie Peters, with whom she met about three weeks ago, also expressed the desire to see an increase in the number of female employees in that country.

"We have reassured them that we have enough competent females who can go, and are willing to go on this programme," the labour minister said.

In keeping with the thrust to engage more women, Robinson noted that for the first time, approximately 165 Jamaican women were employed in the United States on the farm work programme last year.

"It has been reported that they performed creditably on this pilot programme, and I can assure you that for 2018 the number will be increased," she said.