Stakeholders Support the Need for a New Work Permit System

Stakeholders of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s work permit system have provided essential inputs regarding the design of the new system. The Ministry is being supported by the Transformation Implementation Unit (TIU) to roll out an online work permit system to replace the current manual system.

Several stakeholders were consulted including the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency; JAMPRO; the Ministry of National Security and several other government and non-governmental organisations as part of a stakeholder needs analysis for the new work permit system. The recently concluded stakeholder assessment is a critical component in advancing the project which will see the existing system moving from manual and paper-based, to an online, customer service oriented system that will help to improve processing times as well as reduce errors in the work permit process.

Findings coming out of the assessment include the need for the centralisation of the work permit application process; improved efficiency with a reduction in the number of entities applicants need to interface with; as well as the provision of data. Additionally, it was recommended that the system which is expected to go live in 2022, be integrated with the Ministry’s Labour Market Information System to enable Jamaicans to have access to data regarding vacant jobs for which work permit applications are being made locally.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, the Hon. Mike Henry says “the Ministry is committed to ensuring that jobs for Jamaicans are not replaced by persons from overseas. The Ministry is ensuring that work permits are granted to persons where there are no Jamaican counterparts or a shortage in the labour market and this system will help to achieve that.”

In the meantime, members of the Work Permit Project team have completed two study tours between 2019 and 2020 to Canada and the Cayman Islands to learn about the system used in those countries and gain knowledge about best practices for possible adoption and replication in Jamaica.

Executive Director of the Transformation Implementation Unit, Maria Thompson Walters indicated that “the new work permit system is one of the projects being facilitated by the TIU to drive public sector efficiency and improve Jamaica’s ‘Doing Business’ ranking.”

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ms Colette Roberts Risden, affirms that the Ministry is committed to modernising its operations. “With this new work permit system, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security will more efficiently facilitate skills development and employment of Jamaican nationals, while supporting investors and employers who need to import skills that are not available locally.”

Under existing legislation, foreign and Commonwealth nationals who wish to engage in employment in Jamaica, must obtain a work permit or work permit exemption before entering the country.