By Alphea Saunders
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- The ministry of labour and social security in Jamaica is seeking to establish a fee structure for the issue of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) skills certificates. The provision comes under amendments to the CARICOM Free Movement of Skilled Persons Act, which seeks to broaden the categories of skilled nationals able to access jobs in regional countries.
Portfolio minister, Derrick Kellier, who opened the debate on the Bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, said the fees are aimed at offsetting the cost of services provided by the free movement committee within the ministry, in carrying out due diligence before issuing certificates. The committee screens and grants provisional approvals for skills certificates.
“This co-opting of human resources results in a loss of manpower and the incurring of expenses due to the need to provide amenities for fortnightly meetings,” Kellier said.
He said that counterparts elsewhere in CARICOM provide these services at a cost, ranging from US$8 in Guyana, to US$51 in Barbados, and US$94 in Grenada.
The amendments seek to facilitate additional categories of workers such as teachers and nurses, who are currently accommodated administratively. Presently, the categories of workers who are eligible include: University of the West Indies (UWI) degree holders; media workers; artistes; and sportsmen.
Kellier said that the changes seek to broaden some of the existing categories of tertiary level institutions to include the Mico University College, Northern Caribbean University (NCU), University of Guyana, and the University of Technology (UTech).
The ultimate goal is for the free movement of all categories of skills. Between 2004 and July 2013, the ministry has issued 2,115 skills certificates.
The skilled movement regime, as provided for in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, grants to specified categories of CARICOM nationals entry to other member states to work, or seek employment.
Kellier pointed out that among the measures implemented by Jamaica to assist skilled nationals to secure the benefits of this integration tool are: the abolition of work permit requirements, and the introduction of the CARICOM skills certificate; the provision of definite entry for six months on first entry; and the right to indefinite stay in a member state.
The CARICOM Free Movement of Skilled Persons Act establishes the legislative arrangements for free movement, as provided for under the Treaty.