HEART opens up – State agency says it has found no evidence of employers asking for ‘light-skinned trainees’

(Jamaica Gleaner) Three weeks after reports of skin-tone discrimination in Jamaica’s job market hit the fan, the Government’s job placement and training agency – HEART Trust/NTA – has announced that internal investigations have yielded no proof that the agency has ever received requests from employers for light-skinned trainees to fill vacancies at their establishments.

Meanwhile, The Sunday Gleaner has learnt that the discriminatory requests made by some employers were never officially reported to HEART Trust’s management team, and that many of these requests come from employers in the hotel sector.

In addition, our news team also understands that HEART employees who liaise with the employers are now unwilling to come forward at this time because of a fear that they might be punished.

“An extensive search of our records, as well as interviews with staff involved in the recruitment process, has failed to identify any evidence supporting such ‘browning’ requests,” read a section of a release HEART issued last Monday.
The national training agency also reiterated that “it remains committed to fulfilling its mandate of training all working-age Jamaicans, regardless of gender, colour or class”.

Satisfactory training
HEART Trust also highlighted that, as a part of its training methodology, it provides on-the-job training through various partnerships with industry players. The Trust said it also provides emplo-yers with permanent employees on request. “These trainees are matched with employment based on competencies and job fit. The HEART Trust/NTA does not place trainees based on ‘looks’ or other physical or non-trainable attributes,” read another section of the HEART release.

Approximately a month ago, a Sunday Gleaner exclusive revealed that employers were telling HEART employees that they would prefer ‘brown’ trainees to fill job openings at their entities.

The revelation sparked massive public outcry as livid Jamaicans called for the names of the entities so that they could boycott the businesses that have made skin tone an employment criterion.

The disclosure of the requests also incensed Public Defender Earl Witter, who launched an investigation into the matter, the results of which are yet to be made public.
In the meantime, The Sunday Gleaner stands by its story.

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