At the same time, employers are being admonished to make sure that workers have adequate protection in the workplace, because happy workers will ensure that the enterprise of which they are a part grows.
According some experts, given the fact that the people in St. Kitts and Nevis and other regional nations are naturally English speaking, well educated people, what is needed, in addition though, is the training of people to take the high end jobs, to become, for instance, the ship engineers and the ship masters, to go into university and do ship engineering, rather than simply occupying the low-end jobs, no matter the type of work.
One international body that has been seeking to assist St. Kitts and Nevis to improve on standards and quality of work has been the International Labour Organization, ILO. The Caribbean state has received ILO support through the Department of International Labour Standards, which has given technical assistance in training and capacity building of the workforce.
St. Kitts and Nevis is currently undergoing a Labour Law Reform process which is hoped, would not only close the implementation gap of some of the critical ILO conventions that have already been ratified, but pave the way to ratifying other critical conventions that would give St. Kitts and Nevis the lead in continuing to support a positive investment climate and thereby creating new employment opportunities for its citizens.
The International Labour Organization has also been able to offer impactful advice on the issue of freedom of movement within the region for employment.
“By the very fact that we have given them the model laws that would help support the single market,” said an ILO official, “I think through that process, the ILO has given some guidance that all the legislation of CARICOM would then be in compliance with ILO ratified conventions, even if they have not been ratified, but would also support the single market.”
The official also said governments of the Caribbean and the OECS region need to understand that the issue of labour rights is not just the business of the Ministry of Labour.
“We also need to make sure that all relevant parts of government are aware that Labour is not an issue of just the ministry of Labour, it’s a total issue. It’s an issue for the entire country, and the world of work is the engine” said the ILO. “All of us work because we have a family behind us, we want to send our kids to school, we want our businesses to grow, we are part of what enterprises need, and we are part of what feeds our family.
The world of work is tremendous, in terms of its capacity, its flexibility, but Caribbean states like St. Kitts and Nevis also have to have the necessary institutions in place to enable it to be the engine of growth.
Part of the effort of the ILO is to support Caribbean countries to raise the standards that they have, that they can become attractive leading states, creating employment for their people, because they are one part of the world with some of the best educated group of people in such a small space.