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Forging Our Future: Skills Gaps in The Bahamas

As noted in The Inter-American Development Bank’s report: “Skills for Current and Future Jobs in The Bahamas”, a significant gap exists between the labour needs in The Bahamas and the skills of the local workforce. The report states that workforce productivity has continuously decreased since the turn of the millennium, and 1 in 4 employers cite a lack of appropriate skills in the labour force as the leading factor.

Despite efforts to address this need area, there persists a regular struggle by Bahamian employers to find sufficient local staff with the necessary specific, technical, and soft skills. In certain Industries, this creates an uneven dependence on foreign talent creating tension between labour and immigration policies and the functional practices necessary for local industries to thrive. Ultimately, the negative impact of this gap has contributed to limited private sector growth and subsequently minimal economic development.

Recognizing that addressing workforce productivity lies at the heart of economic development, The Ministry of Labour held the first-ever National Symposium on Skills Developments titled “Forging our Future: Assessing and Analyzing the Skills Gap in The Bahamas” on September 17th at The National Training Agency. 

The concept of a National Symposium for Skills Development was proposed to the National Committee or Industry Education & Skills Training, which was assembled in April 2018 to address the skills gap, by The Organization for Responsible Government (ORG) as a potential endeavour to identify and remedy the training gaps contributing to skills gaps in The Bahamas. The concept was adopted by the National Committee, with funding and resources coming from The Ministry of Labour, ORG and The National Training Agency.


Littlest Learners, Biggest Impact: The Importance of Early Childhood Education

By: Toby Hayes
Chairperson
Education Committee
The Organization for Responsible Governance

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Do you remember being asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”? It was a question that instilled a sense of excitement, wonder, and hope. All things seemed possible. For many young Bahamians, though, the spectrum of opportunities slowly contracts and diminishes for one sole reason: education. According to Ministry of Education statistics, from 2015-2017 nearly half of the students that take the BJC don’t go on to take the BGCSE and, of those that do, less than 40% achieve a grade of C or above.

Whilst standardized testing at the primary school level, such as the GLAT, show more promising results, the Minister of Education stated in his 2017 budget contribution that primary level teachers “routinely lament” the gaps in literacy, numeracy, and cognitive skills in young students, especially those who have not had the benefit of pre-primary education.


Highlights from The House - Oct. 18

Elsworth_Johnson_t670.jpgToday in The House of Assembly The much awaited Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2017 was opened for debate. The Bill establishes an Independent Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Minister of State for Legal Affairs Elsworth Johnson explained that The Bill would confer responsibility of the prosecution to the sole care of the DPP and give that office a degree of autonomy from the influence of the Attorney General (AG). Though the AG would still be able to give instruction to the DPP in certain circumstances, instructions must be in writing and signed.

Minister Johnson argued that the separation of these offices would reduce the frequency of nolle presequi's - a controversial order allowing the AG to stop prosecution of cases without opposition. Giving the DPP autonomy helps to free the justice process from political influence. 

Leader of the Opposition Phillip "Brave" Davis pointed out that as long as the AG can give directions to the DPP on such a broad basis, not much is changed from the current system and the office is not truly independent. He urged the government narrow the scope of offenses in which the AG can intervene.

What do you think? The Organization for Responsible Governance will be submitting recommendations for amendments to the Office of the Attorney General and Members of Parliament. Read The Bill and send your feedback to: engagement@orgbahamas.com. 

 

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Interception of Communications and National Intelligence Agency Bills 2017

The Interception of Communications Bill and the National Intelligence Agency Bill were tabled in the House of Assembly last week. The bills are new versions of laws drafted in the last administration and have received backlash from civil society groups for their controversial content and for being tabled without any prior consultation. 

Public consultation is crucial to creating effective laws and policies that respond to the needs of citizens. Broadening the number of people who review a bill not only creates better laws, it reduces the cost of implementation and enforcement by getting the buy-in of the public.

[Click here for more on Public Consultation]

In a meeting with The Organization for Responsible Governance, Our Carmicheal, The National L.E.A.D. Institute, and We March, The Attorney General and his team stated their intentions to host an open consultation process on both bills before parliamentary debate, promising an information campaign over multiple platforms and public forums on New Providence and Grand Bahama. 

To view or download the bills click the icons below:

 

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Enacting an Independent Director of Public Prosecution

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Minister of Legal Affairs Elsworth Johnson tabled the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 last week, which would establish an independent Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and allegedly free that department from the influence of the Attorney General and other cabinet positions.

A Director of Public Prosecutions that is free from political or other bias is essential to the fair and equitable carry out of justice and to the rule of law in The Bahamas. It is important that we get this bill right. 

We encourage you to take a look for yourself to ensure The Bill meets the mark, gives true independence, and affords the DPP the power and tools he or she needs to carry out justice. The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) will be consolidating and submitting recommendations for The Bill to Members of Parliament for consideration and review. Please see the Bill at the link below and send any recommendations to engagement@orgbahamas.com. 

Please see the Bill at the link below and send any recommendations to engagement@orgbahamas.com. 

Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017


Highlights from The House - Sept. 20

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BREAKING: BPL PowerSecure Contract Terminated

Minister of Works Desmond Bannister tabled his much awaited Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) Business plan which outlined strategies to make the national energy provider more efficient and cost-effective. He announced that BPL and the Bahamian government have amicably severed their contract with PowerSecure, the Southern Company subsidiary charged with restructuring the utility provider. The Minister also stated that BPL/BEC breached public procurement protocol in several contracts over the last administration and a number of conflicts of interest are also suspected. A report on these will be tabled when the Royal Bahamas Police Force completes its investigation. 

The Minister's contribution also outlined plans to reduce staff by 30%. The redundancy program will commence next month.  

Other Highlights from the House:


Highlights from The House - Sept. 13

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The House of Assembly reconvened today for the fall and we are eager to see how the government backs up its call for greater accountability and transparency with legislative and policy changes.
In today's brief session, the Honourable Prime Minister Hubert Minnis addressed the devastation of Hurricane Irma and plans for recovery. Here are the main highlights:
 

#FacesofFOIA on Parade - A Gallery

Less than two weeks into the year thousands took to the streets with the We March Movement to protest the many broken promises of various governments over the years. Amongst the most decried topics was the call for a strong, fair Freedom of Information Act. Today the act is passed, with seven amendments suggested by civil society and the people, thanks to the voices of concerned citizens like the WeMarchers. See our gallery of the many #FacesofFOIA who dedicated their time to ensuring we all have the right to know. 

For more #FacesofFOIA photos visit our Facebook Page!

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Where Do We Go From Here? - Freedom of Information

Where Do We Go From Here? - Freedom of Information

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We are exceedingly proud that through our collective efforts, with your help, seven of the amendments put forward by our coalition of FOIA advocates were accepted in The Freedom of Information Bill 2016 which, after months of advocacy was passed in the House of Assembly on February 8th.

Since April 2016 The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) and our partners have brought suggestions and pressed amendments for the bill to ensure it is a strong, fair bill for the people. With help from members and supporters like you, ORG was a part of a collective effort that saw twenty-one diverse civil society groups representing more than 100,000 residents come together to act. Most importantly, over 2,000 citizens sent letters to their MPs and signed the petition on The Campaign For the Bahamas platform and thousands more raised their voices, asked questions, and stood up for our right to know. 

ORG sent letters to MPs with our priority recommendations and liaised with sympathetic members of parliament.  Our partner, Citizens for a Better Bahamas (CBB) created a detailed assessment document highlighting civil society’s priority recommended amendments and benchmarks in other Westminster systems. On the day of the debate, ORG, CBB, Rise Bahamas, and ReEarth continued the advocacy in parliament, distributing this assessment and lobbying with MPs on breaks. Ultimately all of our priority points were discussed by MPs from both sides of the aisle.


Partner Profile: Citizens for a Better Bahamas Fights for Transparency

Partner Profile: Citizen's For a Better Bahamas 
By: Kevante Cash, ORG Volunteer

 Citizens_For_A_Better_Bahamas.jpegIf you run in advocacy and activist circles or have been following the conversation about Freedom of Information, you have probably already heard of our civil society partner Citizens for a Better Bahamas (CBB).

CBB was formed prior to the introduction of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) by a group of “concerned citizens” who firmly believed in the principles of accountability and transparency within government. These citizens insisted that these values be implemented ahead of the introduction of any new tax on Bahamians and residents.

Today, CBB’s greatest focus is The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which will allow Bahamians access to information in a timely manner and hold the government responsible for its decisions. The group was a major player in civil society’s assessment and benchmarking of the Freedom of Information Bill 2015 and the advocacy efforts which saw seven of civil society’s recommended amendments included in the final bill.