Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 07, 2017 (SKNIS): The Honourable Vance Amory, Premier of Nevis and Minister of Labour, said that a lot more needs to done to engage citizens and residents in the workings of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the many opportunities available.

In an interview with the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS), Premier Amory said that because people don’t fully understand and have not been fully acquainted with the provisions of the CSME over the years, their general attitude towards the programme has been met with much rejection.

“This has been a very big challenge where decisions are made as heads of government, but at different agencies of CARICOM there has been no dissemination of the specifics and the details for people within the community to have a full appreciation,” said Premier Amory, adding that because of this lack of knowledge and appreciation, often times nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis act out when other nationals from another CARICOM country enter the Federation and start to work. “There is that understanding, which has been signed on to since 1989 and subsequent adjustments to the Treaty of Chaguaramas to allow for the movement of skills and goods etc. But, there is still that lack of appreciation of understanding of the meaning and the impact of these engagements.”

Premier Amory said that when nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis see non-nationals – but who are nationals of CARICOM countries who have the entitlement based on the agreements, which the Federation signed, it creates a tension because our nationals do not fully grasp what was signed.

Referencing the CSME programme to the four-day workshop, presently being held at the Ocean Terrace Inn, which is aimed at establishing a comprehensive Labour Market Information System (LMIS), the minister of labour, said that “it is an effort to remove those grey areas and misunderstandings”. He noted that such training is important, as it paints a clearer picture, thus providing persons the avenue to learn more.

He added that outside of the training workshops he would hope for the relevant ministries, as well as persons who have been trained, to engage in an ongoing dialogue with the people. He said this should be done so that information can be shared with the “expectation that nationals will have a better understanding and therefore do some of the things which are required to make themselves more capable to have the jobs which are available, be it in foreign or local investments”.

The minister of labour encouraged all nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis to get themselves qualified as their level of qualification will determine the type of job they can obtain and where.

“There is the need to acquire the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) and be able to get the skills certificate so that if our nationals have to travel anywhere they will also have the ability to work in other countries,” he said. “But I will always say that it is better for them to equip themselves with the necessary skills and qualification to work here so that the need for external employment or labour to come in would be minimized, because if the labour force is available here and is equipped, trained, qualified and capable, I think it is easier for the local employer to look at local employees to take up those jobs.”