Labour Minister Emil Lee pose with participants of the ILO training and other representatives of the Ministry.
PHILIPSBURG–Staffers at the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour’s VSA Job Placement and Social Welfare Units participated in a five-day International Labour Organisation (ILO) training focusing on international labour standards from Monday, February 13 to February 17.
The training, coordinated by Section Head of Labour Market Natasha Richardson, was aimed at strengthening the capacity and knowledge of the Job Placement Unit and to support their functions and was intended to improve the services offered by the Job Placement Unit and its support services, amongst other things.
According to a press release, the training was met “with great enthusiasm” by participants. The training, conducted by instructors Diego Rei (from Port of Spain, Trinidad) and Donna Koeltz (from Toronto, Canada,) focused on career guidance and counselling, skills need anticipation and matching, performance management and monitoring and evaluation in relation to public employment services.
Exercises aimed at developing the competence of participants to offer “state of the art services” to job seekers within the new reorganised Job Placement Unit (Section Labour Market) and allow the latter to be managed adequately relating to its processes and services were conducted in the form of role plays, presentations and group exercises.
During the sessions instructors presented information on International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) codes and international labour standards. Information on counselling clients in such a way that essential information is recorded and sound advice is given in a solution-oriented manner was also emphasised, the release stated. The department was also encouraged to examine its use of resources and to prioritize tasks so that maximum productivity is achieved.
As a result of the ILO Training Programme, the department said it is committed to making “significant changes” to improve its products and services to job-seeking clients and businesses. “The department will implement changes that are more attractive to business clients while simultaneously providing services that are more beneficial for job-seeking clients. In the upcoming days, the management team will be re-evaluating internal job functions and meeting with various team members to discuss a fruitful way forward, including the rebranding of the respective units,” it was stated in the release.
Clients and patrons of the relevant sections should be prepared for positive changes in the near future. The ILO instructors will also be checking in periodically in the coming months and will provide one-on-one consultations in an effort to move the department in the right direction. The department said it welcomes the input and looks forward to working with the ILO representatives, as well as the positive exchange of ideas and solutions received from Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions (WICLU) representatives, St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) representatives and members of the Labour Tripartite Committee.
Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Emil Lee lent his support to the training and offered “an innovatively strategic plan” to better facilitate job matching. “The Department of Labour has a critical function in our community, assisting our people to be placed in good jobs. As the department aspires to be a well-respected and successful institution, I applauded their decision to bring the ILO to assist with training and strategy development,” Lee said.
“True change begins with an openness and receptiveness to new or different ideas. I am delighted to see that the department has the courage to challenge their beliefs and old ways of doing things. I am extremely proud and happy with Department of Labour Affairs’ initiative and eagerness to innovate,” the minister added.
According to the release, as the year 2016 came to an end, the Department of Labour Affairs and Social Services reflected on its trials and triumphs. Last year “was met with both advancement in products and services as well as many internal changes and other challenges. Great effort was and is being put in place in order to move the department continuously forward,” the release said. The Department of Labour Affairs and Social Services is an executing branch of government that deals directly with citizens, oftentimes at a low point in their lives (loss of job, medical coverage, etc.) It is therefore imperative, the release said, that the department meets the needs of the clients and continuously strive to find solutions to many underlying societal problems. The Department’s Job Placement and Social Welfare Units are the two sections that most urgently deal with the needs of clients.