Employers deliberately make job requirements difficult for people in Iceland

Acting Labor Commissioner Michelle McLean said employers in the Virgin Islands were making it increasingly difficult for her job requirements to refuse to hire BVIlanders/Belongers.

Speaking at a recent stakeholder meeting to address Labor Department concerns, McLean said employers often look at “semantics” when trying not to hire locals for advertised jobs.

“Sometimes no matter how the person might be [qualified]they might say you have to have four years of experience in this or that field, the person can be three years nine months, they will point out that the BVIslander/Belonger doesn’t have it,” McLean said.

She added that more things make it difficult to get a member to fill a vacancy in the job market.

McLean said reluctance to hire virgin islanders is present among both non-members and members who operate businesses in the territory.

“You could ask an employer and they’ll be like, , And I have to say to myself, ‘What does that mean to me as a BVIslander/Belonger and a proud BVIslander/Belonger? ,” McLean noted.

“You can try to do all the semantics that they say is required, the person can have all the attributes, all the skills that they say are required and when the person leaves, that’s a problem. They can decide to hire this BVIslander/Belonger, but they still want the person to have a work permit. Then we will have another pool of candidates. It is extremely difficult,” said the acting labor commissioner.

Job advertised after the fact

McLean added that some employers in the territory often advertise jobs when they already have someone in mind for the position. Therefore, the advertisement is tailor-made for the qualification of the person and this often excludes a BVislander who wishes to apply for the position. She added that when the Department of Labor protests these actions, it becomes a big deal.

“If you advertise something, you advertise a position. This position should really identify the person you want to hire. When you turn around and say you want to hire someone who isn’t a BVIslander/Belonger to fill that position, that exempts the BVIslander/Belonger because they may have seen that ad and because they don’t did not meet the requirements, he did not apply for it. So it’s a shortfall,” McLean said.

Give the locals a chance

She noted that the Department of Labor still had a mandate to find employment for BVIlanders and Mclean agreed with Labor and Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley’s statement that BVIs will not have premises for fill all available positions on the labor market, but at least they must be given a chance.

The Department of Labor has complained about the department’s difficulty in getting companies to hire locals. In 2020, Wheatley said it was difficult to place locals in jobs because companies intentionally failed to hire them.

Since then, Wheatley has argued that too often companies do not allow BV Icelanders to upgrade despite having the required qualifications, but instead bring in expatriates. Wheatley said the practice is across industries and he believes companies prefer to hire expats over locals in an effort to cut costs.

Last November, the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Ministry of Labor and Immigration, announced that it would launch a “Job Board” which will serve as a recruitment hub aligning BVislanders with employment opportunities .

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