– categories of qualifications widened
The categories of ‘skilled nationals’ may soon be widened if a proposed amendment to the Caricom Community (Free Entry of Skilled Nationals) Act is passed in Parliament.
Drafted as a means of promoting the free entry of skilled nationals of qualifying Caribbean Community States, the act makes provisions for the entry of skilled nationals from other Caribbean States and the granting of Schedule II certificates to locals.
In addition, qualifications needed to acquire such certificates and several other provisions to ensure that free movement of persons is not hindered. It is one of several pieces of legislation of Member States, which were enacted with the specific purpose of implementing the Free Movement of Skills. These laws are generally known as the Caribbean Community Skilled Nationals Acts.
This latest amendment, tabled by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett on Thursday last, calls for changes to Section Eight of the Principal Act which covers ‘Qualification for Schedule II Certificates’. Section Eight, subsection One of the Act gives that any applicant who is a citizen of Guyana or of any other qualifying state who holds any of a number of stated qualifications, satisfies the qualification requirements for the grant of a Schedule II Certificate.
The qualifications listed are a Degree from either the University of Guyana or the University of the West Indies, a degree from the University of Suriname, any comparable University degree, any qualification certified by the Secretary-General of CARICOM or any qualification which the Minister prescribes as satisfying the qualification requirements.
The amendment changes the qualifications in that section to now include university graduates, media workers, musicians, artistes, sports persons, teachers, Registered Nurses, persons holding associate degrees, artisans possessing a Caribbean vocational qualification or an approved national vocational qualification or domestics who have obtained a Caribbean vocational qualification. The clauses that make provisions for qualifications certified by the CARICOM Secretary-General or those prescribed as suitable by the Minister are also included.
Any CARICOM National who wishes to seek work in another Member State as a wage earner must apply for and obtain a CARICOM Certificate of Recognition of Skills Qualification (CARICOM Skills Certificate) from the designated Minister in either his/her home country, or from the host country. This Certificate will provide Immigration Officials with proof that the person who is seeking to enter another Member State belongs to the approved categories.
According to the CSME Unit of the Caribbean Community Secretariat, graduates, for the purposes of free movement of skills, are persons who have obtained at least a Bachelor’s Degree from a recognized university or a professional qualification which is equivalent to at least a Bachelor’s Degree.
Media persons are persons whose primary source of income is drawn from media and media-related work, or persons who are qualified to enter this field. Such persons perform the functions of media managers and administrators, editors and sub-editors, reporters, producers, announcers and broadcasters, camera operators, sound engineering and video technicians, graphic artists, cartoonists and photographers and several other jobs related to media operations.
The classification as an artiste, for the purposes of free movement of skills refers to persons, who are active in or qualified to enter a particular field of art with the specific purpose to earn a living. There is a long list of professions in the field that fall under at least four broad headings, visual artistes, performance artistes, literary artistes and cultural workers, managers or technicians. Not to mention Musicians who are ranked as a class of skilled worker all by themselves. There is also a class for sports persons that includes; athletes, coaches, sports managers and promoters, massage therapists and other professions related to the field.
Qualified nurses are those who have successfully completed basic or higher level training for nurses; who are registered with the General Nursing Council of a CARICOM Member State and are designated Registered Nurses, while qualified teachers are those who have successfully completed an approved pre-service or in service teacher preparation programme from an accredited/recognized institution offering teacher education.
Schedule I of the Principal Act, which gives the qualifying Caribbean Community States, is also being repealed by the amendment. The only change being the inclusion of the Bahamas in the list bringing the total up to 14 countries.
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