CHAIRMAN of the Margaritaville Caribbean Group Ian Dear said the country will have to soon act with “absolute urgency” to address a tightening labour market with imported labour, particularly for entities operating in the hospitality sector, if the recent boom in the tourism industry is to be sustained. Dear, however, added that all avenues to use local labour must first be exhausted before any consideration is made to import workers.

Dear, who in January this year outlined that his own companies were in need of 400 workers, said he has managed to hire “a lot of these people” since then. But he warned that with the projected “growth of the economy and in particular tourism”, thousands of additional people are going to be required by the resorts that are opening up, and may not be able to find that labour in Jamaica.

“In my industry and the hotel industry, a lot of the same people are moving around as they seek opportunities for better, but it’s the same people,” Dear pointed out to the Jamaica Observer. He said that observation has led him to conclude that “the challenge we are having is that the capacity may really not exist”, in terms of available labour, to fill thousands of positions across various industries and the hospitality sector in particular.