FRED Recruitment Expo again proves to serve its purpose well | THE DAILY HERALD

Some of the SMMC representatives with MP Silveria Jacobs (fourth from right) and St. Maarten Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Hasani Ellis (right). Second from right is SMMC Medical Director and general surgeon Felix Holiday. (Suzanne Koelega photo)


St. Maarten Minister of Education Jorien Wuite (third from right) with USC members. (Suzanne Koelega photo)


Carina Garcia of SLS (centre) speaks with an interested student at the FRED in Rotterdam on Saturday. At left: Tess Blom of MHF. (Suzanne Koelega photo)


The RCN stand at the FRED. (Suzanne Koelega photo)

ROTTERDAM–Although the turnout was considered a bit low by some participants, the Flinx Recruitment Expo Dutch Caribbean (FRED) in Rotterdam last weekend again proved to be a good platform for employers from the islands to promote their vacancies and for students and young professionals to network and inquire about jobs in the Dutch Caribbean.

St. Maarten was well-represented in the health care sector with St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF), St. Maarten Laboratory Services (SLS) and Mental Health Foundation (MHF), all of which have vacancies.

Apart from the Foundation Tax Accountant’s Bureau BAB which is recruiting financial personnel for the Audit Team St. Maarten (ATS), there were no other sectors present from St. Maarten, which some participants found surprising considering the job opportunities in education, government and the construction and justice sectors.

An SMMC team headed by Medical Director and general surgeon Felix Holiday came to the FRED to recruit medical and paramedical professionals. A number of vacancies are immediate while some are for the near future once the new St. Maarten General Hospital has been built.

“As the care demand is growing, we need more people and that is why we are here,” said Dr. Holiday. He gave a very informative lecture about the history of SMMC and how it has grown in the number of beds, specialists and services throughout the years to accommodate the health care needs of the increasing population.

SMMC, which was built in 1991, has outgrown the current building and therefore a new, larger hospital is very much needed. Having a general hospital that offers more specialist care is also cost-effective because it means sending fewer patients abroad for treatment. The cost of sending patients abroad has risen steadily over the years.

The original specification of the general hospital project has a price tag of US $85 million. Making the hospital hurricane-resistant will cost an additional $25 million, which the hospital hopes to secure through the Trust Fund managed by the World Bank. “It is looking positive that we will receive a grant,” said Dr. Holiday.

Also growing and in need of additional personnel is SLS, which has six immediate vacancies for analysts and lab assistants. SLS, which has its 10th anniversary this year, has been expanding. It provides services for St. Eustatius and Saba, but also does the drinking-water testing. “We want to motivate students to come work for us,” said Human Resources (HR) Manager Carina Garcia.

Mental health

MHF is looking for psychology and psychiatry near-graduates to accommodate its expansion of services. Apart from the vacancy of a director, MHF has no acute shortage of personnel. “But we are growing and we want to anticipate,” said HR Manager and General and Technical Support Service head Tess Blom.

Blom said it was also important to invest in information and prevention, and to create more awareness about mental health. “This is especially needed after Hurricane Irma,” she said.

MHF offers a wide range of care: from crisis intervention, day treatment and clinic care to ambulant care and short- and long-stay care. The foundation offers this care for clients from St. Eustatius and Saba as well.

WYCCF has no fewer than 19 vacancies due to the expansion of its services. It is in need of nursing personnel, rehabilitation staff and caregivers for the different units: nursing home care, elderly care, physical rehabilitation, psycho-geriatric day care and district nursing care.

Fewer referrals abroad

“We are setting up divisions that weren’t there in the health care sector. It reduces referrals abroad, which is better for the patient and more cost-effective,” said WYCCF Manager Bregje Boetekees, who explained that the foundation will open the first hospice in St. Maarten later this year. Boetekees was enthusiastic about the FRED. “We always managed to find new employees.”

Two entities were present that specifically have Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba as their work-field: the National Government Service for the Caribbean Netherlands RCN and Mental Health Caribbean. St. Eustatius did not have a local foundation or company present at the FRED.

RCN has 13 vacancies. “We are trying to get island children as much as possible. We are a young and dynamic organisation that is constantly growing. We have recruited through FRED before. In fact, we are recruiting all year long,” said Communications Officer Alida Francis.

RCN Human Resources Manager Esther Bulthuis said there was always work “back home” for Dutch Caribbean people. She said participating at the FRED contributed to increasing awareness among the target group. “We want them to have us in mind when they are ready for a next step in their career. With their education and experience they can mean a lot for the islands. We are here not only to recruit, but to also invest in the future.”

Saba’s two foundations that were present were also from the health care sector: the Saba Health Care Foundation (SHCF) and the Benevolent Foundation Saba (BFS). Both BFS, a care institution for elderly and disabled persons, and SHCF, which provides medical care at A.M. Edwards Medical Centre, are looking for new personnel.

USC at hand

At hand at the FRED was Unified St. Maarten Connection (USC) to support St. Maarteners in the Netherlands who are interested in going home, and to connect them with employers with job opportunities.

“Students and young professionals need to work on broadening [their networks – Ed.]. We are assisting with that – we encourage them. We create a low barrier to make it easy for our people to make that connection. We are not doing that only at the FRED, but all year long,” said USC board members Edwina Hodge, Nikita Udhwani and Duane Meade.

USC hosted an innovative presentation called “Dress for success.” Sidoney Surpris from St. Maarten explained to the many young people in attendance the differences between formal business attire, business professional attire, business casual attire and smart casual attire. Business attire differs per sector, and it is important to know how to dress when applying for a job in a certain business segment and once working there. Colours play a major role.

There were several companies and organisations that work throughout the Dutch Caribbean and have a branch in St. Maarten such as Kooyman, Deloitte, the Joint Court of Justice, the Prosecutor’s Office, Ernst & Young, the Government Accountants Bureau SOAB, HBN Law, VanEps Kunneman Van Doorne, the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard and Croon Caribe.

More than 35 employers

More than 35 employers from the islands attended the sixth FRED in Rotterdam to actively recruit personnel, but also to make an investment for the future by promoting their company or organisation. The event attracted several hundred students and young professionals who are interested in going back home to work.

The FRED, held at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Rotterdam, is organised by two young professionals: Tristan Every of Aruba and Quincy Sintiago of Curaçao. Both gentlemen in the meantime have returned to their islands, but they continue to organise the FRED because they find it important to facilitate a platform where employers and prospective employees can connect.

“We are satisfied. There were not as many visitors as we expected, but employers made contact with good candidates. Many people doubt whether to take the step to return to the islands. The feeling of wanting to go home is fuelled when they have personal contact with a prospective employer,” said Sintiago.

Important link

St. Maarten Member of Parliament (MP) Silveria Jacobs of the National Alliance, who attended the FRED on Saturday, concurred that the FRED was an important link between the employers on the islands and the students and young professionals of Dutch Caribbean descent.

“Over the years several graduate students came back to St. Maarten through the FRED. I hope that many more will do so, because we need them,” said Jacobs, whose daughter returned to the island after being recruited at the FRED. She said it was important for those studying in the Netherlands to register so they can return once they have completed their studies.

One such organisation that is active in making the connection between the employer and prospective employee is WeConnect Foundation, which is tied to the FRED as an organisational partner. WeConnect manager Tanja Fraai hosted several guests on the main stage who spoke about the different aspects of job opportunities on the islands and the importance of returning home, seeing that brain drain is a major challenge.

Source: The Daily Herald