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Some Inconvenient Truths – The Royal Gazette

By November 5, 2021November 19th, 2021Sports events

Updated: 05 November 2021 8:04 AM

Mason Tee Saunders is doing his part to modernize nearly $ 700,000 worth of renovations to the 350-year-old St. James Church in this file photo. The decline in the number of Bermudan traders must be reversed, says Chris Famous.

Two decades ago, Vice President Al Gore presented what he called an inconvenient truth.

Since the early 2000s, there has been a continuous decline in the number of Bermudans working as skilled tradespeople

He spoke of the threat to the global climate from the continued growth of greenhouse gases, melting sea ice, increasing droughts, more severe hurricanes and rising sea levels.

Many laughed at him and refused to publicly acknowledge that he was right.

This week, world leaders, including those from affected countries in the Caribbean and Pacific, gather in Scotland at the United Nations COP26 to discuss and potentially agree on the way forward to reverse the near-looming threat.

Sadly, some say we are already past the tipping point.

Death of the trader

Over the past few decades, local traders across the board have stated that there simply aren’t enough young Bermuda ready to start learning skilled trades such as tiling, masonry and carpentry.

Columnist Khalid Wasi summed it up perfectly in a recent column titled “Death of the Tradesman”.

There is the moot point that wages were too low to attract young Bermudans.

Essentially, the 1990s saw a decline in Bermudians eager to work in the trades. This decline is not due to the lack of available work.

Houses and buildings will always need to be maintained, vehicles constantly break down, women will always need their hair and their hair, and the grass keeps growing.

We simply cannot have offices without working air conditioning units or restaurants without chefs to prepare meals.

In the absence of voluntary premises, the employers of yesterday and today have no choice but to seek qualified workers abroad.

Which leads to the harsh reality shown in a graph produced by economist Robert Stubbs, clearly indicating an increase in non-Bermudian workers from the 1990s, which coincides with the decline in Bermudan workers.

Anecdotal, you say?

Let’s take a look at some critical stats found in the 2021 Job Bulletin:

• Masons 60% non-Bermudian

• 77% non-Bermudian chefs

• 67% non-Bermudian tilers

• Auto mechanics 53% non-Bermudian

• Air conditioning / refrigeration technicians 30% non-Bermudian

So, for those who wish to learn a trade, there are plenty of full-time employment opportunities.

The tipping point

At COP26, world leaders have an obvious choice.

Roll back emissions or face irreversible global damage.

Some, like the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, are full of good intentions, while others will just take the stage and pontificate. Even more blatantly, the main culprits of global warming, Russia and China, are not even actively participating in the conference.

Here in Bermuda, we also have some obvious choices to make.

Keep complaining online or individually and collectively reverse our employment trends.

Teachers, parents and extended family should encourage our young people from an early age to look to technical fields. These fields provide a path for young people with lifelong careers and owning their businesses.

There are several avenues such as Bermuda College, the Department of Workforce Development, the Construction Association of Bermuda and simply becoming an apprentice.

We have a duty, to be honest with ourselves, that as a country we have to do better to train our people. We cannot blame others for our shortcomings.

Here, my Bermudan compatriots, the inconvenient truth.

Christopher Famous is the Government Member of Parliament for Devonshire East (District 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or by email at carib_pro@yahoo.com