Trinidad and the CARICOM Skills Certificate


Letter of the Day – CSME certificate – the full story
published: Sunday | August 6, 2006

The Editor, Sir:

After seeking to benefit from the much heralded free movement of labour under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), I am most disappointed that the full story has not been told. I did all that was necessary, notwithstanding the bureaucratic encounter at the Ministry of Labour (where only the minister can sign the approval for the CSME skill certificate) to get my skill certificate to travel to work in Trinidad. All this time I was told that this was all that was necessary to be employed in a country signed on to the programme.

To my surprise, after being employed in Trinidad and travelling out of the country on business, I was informed on re-entry that the CSME certificate obtained in Jamaica is only good for six months and does not give the privilege of being employed in the country. The holder is expected in Trinidad to apply for a CSME certificate in Trinidad including, medical, police record etc. before being able to reside and work in the country. This I do think is absurd as the same procedure is required in each home country. Is this to say that if I need to work in five CARICOM countries, I need five skill certificates from each country?

Please, can someone explain to me what really is the usefulness of issuing skill certificates in one’s home country when it has no true value in the country that you are seeking employment? This is not free movement of labour, as I could have been debarred from entering Trinidad even if I had a CSME skill certificate from Jamaica.

CSME not working
published: Friday | August 11, 2006

The Editor, Sir:

I must agree with the letter from Mr. Carl Stewart, referencing the CSME.

It is one of the most bureaucratic pieces of legislation that I have ever run across.

I, like Mr. Stewart, moved to Trinidad and Tobago to make a better life for myself and family. This legislation was to aid in the free movement of labour within the Caribbean. I am here to tell you, that is not so.

I submitted an application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs three months ago and to date still have no certificate, even though I have a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Finance.

I have had to obtain police reports from everywhere I have lived, even places that I lived 18 years ago.

Mr. Stewart is absolutely right – the true story is not being told, the CSME does not work. It has been in existence for a few months and is in desperate need of an overhaul.

The above letters caught my attention, as it reminded me of a friend of mine who was facing almost the same treatment in Trinidad.

Then a few days later, someone shared virtually the same story in the Gleaner.

What is going on here? I posted the same question on CaribHRFoum, to see if anyone else had heard any stories about Trinidad not accepting the CSME Skills Certificate. Sure enough, both Jamaicans and Bajans reported that they had encountered difficulty in getting the CARICOM Skills Certificate recognized in Trinidad.

I placed a few emails to CSME offices in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados to try to find out what the story is, and what HR executives across the region need to be aware of.

We shall see if there are any responses.

In the meantime, if you or anyone else you know has encountered difficulty in using the CARICOM Skills Certificate anywhere in the region, please post your story as a comment to this post (it can be done anonymously.)

It might very well help someone who is operating under some false understanding that could be damaging.