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Nassau, The Bahamas -- There is going to be full employment in Bimini, Prime Minister Perry G. Christie has predicted. He was speaking at the Bahamas Economic Recovery Strategy Meeting Thursday, September 27, at the British Colonial Hilton.
A major private sector stakeholder group yesterday expressed concern about a "looming management void facing businesses and government" as Baha Mar and other developments go on aggressive hiring drives for much-needed senior staff.
According to the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), businesses and the government must prepare for "unprecedented changes" coming to the workforce at the management levels over the next year.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Chairman Chester Cooper yesterday agreed with the BHTA.
He said that a challenge lies ahead for public and private sector organizations, telling Guardian Business that major employers are "rightfully concerned" about losing key employees in a "price war" with Baha Mar as it moves ahead with plans to hire thousands of staff.
Meanwhile, Peter Goudie, head of the BCCEC's Employment and Labour Division, claimed that "every company in The Bahamas is concerned" about the impact that Baha Mar's staff needs will have on their management level staffing.
"I have people on my committee from many sectors and it is something we discuss. I think everyone is vulnerable and every company should be doing a lot of succession planning and training so that if they do lose a few, they won't be going 'oh my God, what do we now'?"
Their comments reflect the flipside of the debate over whether Baha Mar will be successful in hiring the people it needs to staff the mega resort, which is due to open in December 2014.
Cooper, also president and CEO of BAF Financial, along with former Minister of State for Finance and former Central Bank Governor James Smith, both urged a detailed analysis of skills gaps in the Bahamian economy in order to assess the true extent of the likely impact of Baha Mar and other oncoming developments and to assist in mitigating it.
In addition to Baha Mar, whose opening is slated for December 2014, the 500-room Memories Grand Bahama Beach Resort and the expanded Resorts World Bimini project are set to come on stream in 2014.
Robert 'Sandy' Sands, senior vice president, administration and external affairs for Baha Mar, said the company is both "very satisfied" that it can find the talent it needs, and that this can be achieved without having a significant negative "knock-on effect" on the rest of the business community or government.
Yesterday the BHTA announced its own response to the "management void" it is projecting, revealing that it plans to host a forum on leadership development and succession planning.
In announcing the event, President of the BHTA Stuart Bowe said: "We know that a minimum of 700 new management level positions are needed by the Baha Mar properties. When one factors in the developments, which are planned for Grand Bahama and several Family Islands, plus normal attrition which occurs within our existing businesses and government, employers in virtually every area of the public and private sectors are facing a huge talent gap.
"The quality of our people at all levels and in all sectors must be our competitive advantage. Succession planning, management and leadership development are essential components of every successful company and country development strategy. The forum will draw attention to this and to solutions which can be put in place at the company and country levels," said Bowe.
The BHTA's upcoming Corporate Strategies for Leadership and Talent Development Forum is set for Thursday, December 5 at the British Colonial Hilton.
The forum is part of a national initiative convened by the BHTA in collaboration with public and private sector stakeholders.
Bowe said succession planning measures must be put in place now to soften the impact of the hiring that is set to occur.
Facilitating a good part of the BHTA forum's sessions will be Norm Smallwood, co-founder and partner with The RBL Group, which is recognized as one of the top global voices in leadership development.
Smallwood is an advisor to Fortune 500 companies and nations committed to developing top talent and leadership. He has published hundreds of articles in leading journals and newspapers.
The forum will be outcome driven according to Bowe.
"Our intentions are fourfold: One, to heighten understanding about management and leadership challenges facing most business and government organizations; two, to learn about successful corporate and government strategies locally and abroad to address leadership voids and succession planning; three, to identify strategies and action steps which can be put in place now to fill anticipated talent gaps and prepare for the future both at a company level as well as nationally; and four, to agree to a collaborative public-private sector approach toward top talent development."
Sector participation is expected from banks, hotels, insurance companies, accounting firms, government, education, retailers, wholesalers and other labor-intensive sectors of the economy.
Cooper commended the BHTA in launching the succession planning-focused initiative.
"The question of where will Baha Mar find sufficient and adequately skilled employees is a real one. No doubt Baha Mar will release its strategy shortly. Other major employers in The Bahamas are rightfully concerned about losing their key employees in a price war to Baha Mar."
He added that the issue of finding adequate talent is compounded both by a "blatant sense of entitlement" among Bahamians who "want a job but don't necessarily want to work" and by the failure of many businesses to encourage workforce development.
"We must do more to identify, encourage and hone talent where we find it in our businesses. We must do more to encourage our young people, provide opportunities for them and importantly get out of the way when we had our time."
THE Government has a “master plan” for the economic development of the Family Islands, according to Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe.
Speaking at an Out Island Promotion Board event, Mr Wilchcombe suggested that “plan” is similar to the multi-million dollar Resorts World investment in Bimini, which is constructing two hotels and has already started daily cruises from Miami...
The second phase of the multimillion-dollar Resorts World Bimini Bay resort is progressing, with the hotel expected to be completed next spring.
Earlier this year, the government and the Genting Group inked a deal for phase two of the $150 million project, which included the construction of a 350-room luxury marina hotel. Ground was broken in August.
The construction of the hotel is underway, and Resorts World Bimini President Dana Leibovitz said the company is on an aggressive timeline.
But a decision to have it pre-built has given the company a unique opportunity, after recognizing the challenges associated with transporting building materials to the island.
"We have contracted a company that does this type of work so it allows for it to be built quicker and more efficiently. Getting building materials to Bimini is a challenge so already having it pre-built helps tremendously," Leibovitz revealed.
"The hotel is expected to be completed in spring 2014. We only decided to build the hotel about three months ago so our timeline to get it finished is very aggressive."
Leibovitz said the recent decision to construct a hotel is just part of the company's commitment to the Bahamian people, especially Biminites.
His comments came shortly after signing a $300,000 contract with Airport Maintenance Services (AMS) to upgrade the airport in South Bimini.
"We are committed to the Bahamian people, the Biminites. We want to bring Bimini to the people who do not know about Bimini," he said.
"You go to Miami and everybody knows about Bimini, but nobody has been there. Bimini is such a beautiful, exotic and magical place."
"We want to make it easier for people to get there, give them a place to stay and share this with the Bahamian people."
Genting took over Bimini Bay earlier this year, rebranding it as Resorts World Bimini.
Phase one of the project included the construction of the Resorts World Casino and the introduction of the Bimini SuperFast cruise ship that is dedicated solely to transporting passengers between Bimini and Miami, Florida.
At the time of the groundbreaking, Prime Minister Perry Christie had estimated that the project would create 150 construction jobs and 350 permanent jobs.
The project has in recent months drawn significant criticism, particularly in light of plans to construct a 1,000-foot ferry terminal and 4.5-acre island near to numerous world-renowned dive sites, and in light of concerns raised in an accompanying environmental impact assessment.
The Bimini Blue Coalition is seeking a judicial review of the project, maintaining it does not bode well for Bimini's future, and an injunction against the work.
Resorts World Bimini has maintained that it is obtaining all necessary approvals for the project and has been following best environmental practices.
DEPUTY FNM leader Loretta Butler-Turner is asking what happened to the 400 jobs promised by the government upon the opening of the Resorts World Bimini Casino.
Speaking yesterday in the Minority Room at the House of Assembly, Mrs Butler-Turner said if those jobs have been created – “obviously they have not been populated yet”...
Bimini, the Bahamas - The
Lionfish Smash kicked off its 2nd year with the South Florida
Freedivers Club hosted by Bimini Bay Resort and Marina. Five boats
totaling 13 free divers weathered the treacherous conditions (seas 6-8
feet and wind upwards to 20 knots) to make this event a true success.
Juan Comendeiro's team of four divers, on a 39-foot SeaVee from Miami,
eradicated the most with 41 Lionfish. The next boat - Manuel J.
Menendez's boat "Majo" with 38 captured Lionfish, caught not only the
smallest lionfish at less than 3 inches, but also the largest at one
pound, fifteen ounces. Joe Fernandez's boat "Robalo 1" was the third
boat seizing 13 Lionfish. There were two ties for Junior "Slay
Master's" - Giovanni and Cheeca with three Lionfish each. The boat
Majo carried the event's "Slay Master" Manuel J. Menendez with 29
lionfish, winning a complimentary stay at Bimini Bay Resort and Marina
in a two bedroom luxury suite complete with dockage...
Bimini residents who lost a battle five years ago to halt the development of a mega-resort and marina they feared would damage their famed waters and change their lives forever came out in full fighting force this week to say enough is enough -- more than 1,300 signed a petition to stop construction of a 1,000-foot dock to serve cruise ships delivering passengers to Genting's Resorts World Bimini Bay casino due to open soon...