Minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Housing Lt. Col. David Burch addressed the discussions there have been  recently regarding the implementation of Work Permit Term Limits and Governments position on the same
 

Most employers mistakenly believe that the policy was introduced to make more jobs available for Bermudians. While I am charged with ensuring that qualified Bermudians at all levels are given the opportunity to reach their highest potential, this is not the underlying principal of this policy.  We gave an undertaking to Bermudians that we would not continue to approve work permits indefinitely, thereby creating further groups of long-term residents who would claim to have an expectation that they could ultimately acquire permanent residence in this country.

    This Government recognizes that we will never be able to produce enough Bermudians to fill every job in Bermuda and as such will have to continue to approve work permits for guest workers.  This policy is not designed to threaten business or to make it more difficult and I refute completely the suggestion that it does.  I note the recent decision of one of our competitors. the Cayman Islands, that they would not amend their 7- year Term Limit legislation. I note also a recent article in the Economist regarding similar concerns in the Gulf Arab states and their exploration of policies to limit and control foreign workers.  It is also a statistical fact that at least 50% of guest workers voluntarily depart Bermuda after 4 years.

    In order to qualify for an exemption from term limits, employers must submit a justification as to why an employee should be considered key. If the employer makes a convincing case that the person is key to the organisation, and the job category appears on the shortage or key person list, then the employee may be granted a waiver from term limits.  However, I have to balance these approvals with ensuring that Bermudians at all levels are given the opportunity to reach their highest potential and that glass ceilings are not created by the granting of waivers from term limits.

            Companies which do not give opportunities to young, qualified Bermudians, will lose out when waivers on work permit term limits for foreigners are handed out.  Firms which are committed to Bermudians can get waivers from term limits for key workers, while those which aren't can only expect three-year extensions for similar key workers.   Companies have to provide evidence that they:

 provide entry level positions to young Bermudians;   provide equal payment and benefits to young Bermudians and non-Bermudians;   demonstrate that they have programmes in place for developing Bermudians.  If a company provides evidence that they are meeting all three criteria, then waivers will be granted to those work permits holders that are in the categories identified (key workers), regardless of their seniority.  However, for those that don't meet the criteria, three-year extensions are granted rather than waivers from term limits, even though the position may, on the face of it, be eligible for a waiver."

    One area where we continue to receive a number of complaints is that there is a dearth of entry level positions created for young Bermudians leaving high school and university. I am cognisant of the challenges with the standard of education in Bermuda. However, there continue to be a number of young Bermudians who graduate from accredited universities, some with double majors who have trouble finding entry level positions when they return to Bermuda.

    We have to ensure that while we continue to cultivate an environment where businesses feel welcome and can continue to be profitable, we have also to ensure that Bermudians are benefiting from our booming economy. The last thing that either the Government or the business community want to be responsible for is the creation of a perception that there are two Bermudas: one that is wealthy and mainly non-Bermudian; and the other which is poor and struggling and mainly Bermudian. We must work together to contribute to an economy, so eloquently described by the Minister of Finance, as being where" the have-nots have and the haves have more.  This cannot be done by Government alone. The Public Service cannot provide jobs for all entry-level positions, nor would that be a viable economic solution. The private sector must contribute by ensuring that such opportunities are made available to suitably qualified young Bermudians.

    Efforts are well underway to automate many of the processes in the Department in relation to the processing of Work Permits. Government has invested significant sums in the upgrading of systems within the Department and the final phase of that process is the automation of the Work Permit process. We anticipate live testing of the system by year's end.