More Chinese workers will be drawn upon from China to supplement Jamaica’s shortfall in skilled labour needed for the construction of the Western Children’s and Adolescents Hospital in Montego Bay, St. James.
Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, told reporters that the country continues to suffer from a shortage of a skilled labour force and that shortcoming is being felt by the children’s hospital’s construction skilled masons, carpenters and other labours.
“So that has created a little challenge. We anticipated that we may see more skilled labor coming in from China to support the [local] trainee contractors, not necessarily because it is a desired position, but because we don't have the local personnel,” said Tufton.
In fact, he stated that ads were placed on various social media platforms calling on the local labour content outside of the current Chinese workers but “it is a difficulty.”
“There is no doubt that in many areas…we have a shortage and that is known. The issues around needing to bring labour in, for me, is not an option [but] it is going to become necessary if were too slow to the pace of economic development and growth in a number of areas,” Tufton stated.
He added that the education system and training entities need to do more to upskill and certify more locals so that when the opportunities present themselves, they are able to take full advantage of the gains.
However, notwithstanding the skilled labour shortfall, Tufton indicated that the construction of the hospital is “going well.”
“I think were close to the second floor now and it’s going up day by day,” he stated.
Work had stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic but has since resumed.
The Western Children’s and Adolescents Hospital will be a six-storey hospital with a 250-bed capacity to incorporate adolescent, psychiatric, surgical and interventional diagnostics, along with trauma and urgent care services.