As much as 40% of the 430 immediate vacancies that were available to laid off sugar workers at a job fair at Patentia, West Bank Demerara, are estimated to have been filled, according to the Private Sector Commission (PSC).
The PSC collaborated with more than 20 companies from around the country to host the job fair for the ex-sugar workers, who have been finding it difficult to find jobs after the Wales Sugar Estate would have concluded grinding approximately 14 months ago.
Hundreds, comprising laid off workers and residents from the surrounding areas, had swarmed the fair, hoping to be able to get the opportunity to gain employment at one of the companies that were present.
PSC Chairman Eddie Boyer had explained that from the over 20 companies that were present, there were over 800 vacancies.
Stabroek News, however, learnt that there were about 430 immediate vacancies and over 500 future ones. Of the immediate vacancies, some 30% to 40% of them were filled after follow-up interviews were conducted by the respective companies.
“The vacancies filled ranged from…. gardeners to HR [Human Resource] managers. Although persons who presented themselves to companies might have had certain qualifications, they did not suit the vacancies that were available. However, for example, Neal and Massy is opening a new store and they had a bulk of interviews and they are recruiting for the new location,” a PSC official, who asked not to be named, pointed out, while stating that other companies that had smaller vacancies were able to fill them.
While the event was the first that the PSC has hosted, the source explained that going forward it is going to make some changes, which include giving the companies more space.
“We learned to let the job seekers come prepared too and if you want a job bring everything you can, all your documents and you can even be hired on spot. We recognised that we have to give companies more space or get a location that has more space,” the source explained.
Additionally, the source related that the PSC has to do more to raise awareness in the villages and other important areas where they will be holding more job fairs so more persons will be able to attend.
While the job fair is regarded as a success by the PSC and others are expected to be held at Enmore, East Cost Demerara, and Berbice next, some of the ex-sugar workers had said that the jobs that were available do not suit them as they had spent most of their life working in the sugar industry.
One of them related that most of the jobs required a minimum of three CSEC passes, which none of the cane cutters and other sugar workers that have been working at estates around the country for decades would have.
“Cutting cane and GuySuCo is all we know all we life. What they have is for the young people that got qualifications and now come out of school. Not we that been cutting cane and working in the backdam all we life,” one of the workers had said.