Understanding Regional labour market, having data to assist policy-making critical – CARICOM Single Market Programme Manager

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Opening Remarks, Programme Manager, CARICOM Single Market, Mr. Leo Titus Preville, at the Start of Part 1 of the Regional Training for Data Managers on Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange (SDMX) in Support of the LMIS, 4-5 October 2022, Bridgetown, Barbados

Good morning representatives from Member States, Mr. Shutong Ding facilitator from the ILO, staff from the CARICOM Secretariat, ladies and gentlemen. Let me welcome you to these two days of training on the use of Statistical data and Metadata eXchange which is a critical aspect of what will be the new IT platform of the LMIS. As you would be aware, the decision has been taken to redesign the IT component of the LMIS. As a result, capacity-building is important so that you are competent in being able to upload and edit data on the system. We are hoping to have the LMIS fully operational by early 2023.

Most, if not all of you would have participated in the online training workshop on Tuesday and Thursday last week (27 and 29 September) on production of data which served to review the different types of data that would be produced for uploading. Having reviewed the fundamentals and having a common understanding of what will be produced, the technical aspects of generating and manipulating the data and uploading it on the system is vital.

As important is this is, appreciating the importance of your work is even more critical. And while I may be preaching to the choir, it bears stating some realities. That the world, and on our Region in particular, continue to face some critical challenges that threaten our very survival and economic wellbeing as a people. As a group of mainly small open economies, these challenges (and here I refer mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and climate change) have presented themselves as external shocks with their impacts inflicting a serious toll on the welfare of the people of the Region. Responding is vital but responding in a strategic manner that helps to both transform our economies and build our resilience depends on decision making that is driven by evidence. At the heart of the response must be policies that empower our people to make sound economic choices. Labour, and its movement across the Community is vital to the private sector and a robust private sector is central to mounting a lasting and sustainable response. Hence understanding our labour market and having data to assist in policy making is therefore critical.

Even as we speak, there are questions being posed aimed at getting a better understanding and assessment of the effectiveness of the gradualist approach to the free movement of labour regime, which has been our modus operandi to the movement of labour in the single economic space. Are our people moving in search of employment opportunity among the Member States and if not why. For those who are moving, what is driving the movement, how difficult or easy is it to move and what is the impact of their movement on the receiving and sending countries. Understanding the Region’s labour market as we seek to create a single economic space, is at the centre of the CSME and the objectives that this policy instrument hopes to achieve, which is, the advancement of the welfare of the people of the Community.

Needless to say, having accurate and timely information is vital to the policy-making responsibilities of our governments. This information influences investment decisions (both intra-CARICOM as well as external) by private investors, social security arrangements by our national insurance agencies and shapes the tripartite environment for relations between representatives of labour, employers and governments. Our regional economy must increasingly be built in a manner that strengthens it against external shocks and in so doing, build its resilience. The CSME is the tool that we have identified and agreed upon as the best response to crafting a sustainable future. In that environment therefore, reliable labour market information is central. This is the context in which the work that you are participating in must be seen.

Beyond this workshop, I urge you to become advocates for the proper functioning of the LMIS, as you are well aware that the LMIS is much more than the IT platform. It is a system that requires collaboration with the Ministries of Labour, Statistical Agencies and the National Insurance Systems in Member States. We need properly functioning LMIS structures in all Member States for the information that will be generated to be truly worthwhile. We need a regional approach to make this work.

I urge you therefore to treat this training with the level of seriousness that it requires and that you implement the knowledge gained in building a system that will produce reliable data which will be to our collective benefit. I wish to express my thanks to the ILO for the steady and supportive role that they have played throughout the years and the European Union for the funding support that has been provided under the Eleventh European Development Fund (11th EDF) to make this workshop a reality.

I thank you.

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