The Editor, AMANDALA
Wed. Mar. 15 at 5:46 AM
When this regional agreement was introduced to the newly fledged Caricom axis mundi (including Belize), it was seen first and foremost as an economic masterstroke on the chessboard of a burgeoning of world market alliances. By the same token, the raison d’etre of the Act demanded the removal of barriers to the free movement of skilled labour amongst the member states, again, Belize included. At the last House meeting our parliamentarians struggled afresh with the definition of terms, in particular “skilled labour,” and seemed to be moaning over some buyers’ remorse.
The treaty was signed 50 years ago. A lot has changed in that time, the labour market profile right up there with technology. In 1973, a carpenter was someone with a tape measure, a hand saw and a plumb-line who “did some work” for Mr. Joe Blow a while back. Today he is a graduate of Technical or some other trade school; has done computer-aided draughting and knows some geometry. Most importantly, our attitudes towards “manual labour,” driven by a more educated populace and more women in the workplace demanding a more liberal wage parity, have undergone major shifts. Philosophers remind us that life is not static, and nowadays you need to have a “piece of paper” to guarantee entry into and advancement in the workplace.
That there was objection to the Bill introduced last Friday in the House to allow trained/certified artisans easy entry into Belize appears to be ignoring these foundational shifts in market structure and cultural transformations. What would be more progressive are calls on the administration to do more to strengthen and promote the establishment of more trade schools nationwide, thereby obviating the need to have to go to Caricom to find a trained gardener/landscape practitioner or someone to lay a laminate floor.