The New Networking In The Caribbean

Easier to Network?

Is it easier or harder to network here in Jamaica than in other places? I am not sure if I know the answer to that question, but realized after a few months of living on the island that networking is different here compared to the process I followed when I lived in North America.

For starters, nobody ever asked me, ” was I related to such and such, and did I attend prep school with …….? or am I the daughter- in-law of ……..?” These questions affected me in a very strange way, as I asked “why does it matter who I am related to?”

While I now recognize that this is simply how trust is established among many on the island as they attempt to place you, it threw me for a tail loop my first year here. It is very interesting three years later, when I am introduced as Merle’s daughter-in-law, or Francis’s wife I just smile. As they say in Jamaica ” so it ahh go” meaning that it’s how things are done, so do not try to fight the system.

My new conclusion is that if I am going to live here, I need to understand the “why” of how things work and find my place in this society.

My Rolodex filled with names and telephone numbers for contacts up and down the east coast, those living  out on the west coast, as well as those living in the the southern states, was of no assistance to me while trying to network on the island Jamaica.

I had to start my contact list over from zero. Oh lucky me!.
My husband realized this as well and he went a step further and started writing about the  networking differences, which led to him giving a few presentations and speeches on the topic last year. At first, he wanted to have someone write a book about the topic, but when he couldn’t figure out how to direct the project, he connected with a designer Tavia Tomlinson and together they came up with an e-book, which is now finally available as a download. This  e-book, includes a combination of text, audio and video.

A copy can be claimed by contacting me or leaving your name at the following

I am sharing this with readers since all of you should find this free e-book helpful when considering moving to this island in the sun. We get weekly emails from individuals who are thinking about moving to Jamaica,  with many admitting that they are unsure of where to begin. My initial advice is always for them to start making trips to the island and  begin building networks.

Multinational Companies & The Hiring Of Expats In Jamaica

I saw an interesting article in local Gleaner newspaper about a multinational company who’s expat director quit his position, after being in a new position for less than three months.  According to the article, “he was well liked and was doing a good job here, but I don’t think his family really settled here and there was an opportunity which came up for him in South Africa”

Read the entire article by Susan Gordon a business reporter at the Gleaner newspaper:

There is currently a rule in Jamaica that says, any job being offered to an Expat will eventually have a local replacement,  and once the individual has been trained by the expat and is ready to take on the responsibility, the expat will be replaced. l fully endorse such a plan, but I also see the need for the expat to be able to understand the cultural challenges that may come into play as he the expat moves to a new culture.

His or her being here on the island could create new skills for others in an environment where many locals who get trained in specific fields on Jamaican soil, choose to migrate. I think that training for export is leading to a brain drain in several areas, so if Expats can  come in and provide training then great. ex.( Cubans arriving to JA to take  up nursing  or Medical positions)

Large Multinational companies recognize  that as things currently are in Jamaica Re: skills, they need to hire  individuals with certain skill sets to fill vacant positions across the island. My question then lies with what processes do these companies have in place to support an Executive and his family as he considers moving to Jamaica for a job opportunity from as far away as India or Malaysia?

The hiring of an expat as every Human Resource department is aware of, is no simple matter. The process can be timely and extremely expensive, as expat packages involve work permits, flights for interviews, housing for the family, schools for children etc. etc. Where are families supposed to get such information and assistance with settling if they do decide to relocate.

If this relocation function is mismanaged at any stage, a company may risk what I call a “relocation gone buss” which happens very often for no particular reason. I have been in Jamaica for three years and I know of at least half a dozen cases of people I know whose relocation’s went sour in less than a year. The entire process of hiring expats needs a structured plan or process to yield  win win situation for all involved.

The  above article, is a clear example of a relocation gone sour. Could this particular director and his family have benefited from some early intervention steps such as a pre- arrival trip? and if such a trip is impossible, did this family have any true knowledge of what day to day life would look like here in Jamaica?  I can only guess.

What I do know, is companies lose a great deal of money and productivity each time a relocation goes sour. I continue to get daily emails from individuals thinking of relocating to this beautiful island in the sun, and the reality is Jamaica’s image is large, so the work must begin to support people who are willing to move to the Island.

I often say to friends that Jamaica has a great potential, as once you leave Kingston the city it can be an amazingly beautiful country.

Kingston: Downtown Part II> Done 2007 by Ria Bacon

Jamaica’s Financial Woes; January 2010

This past week January (11th-15th 2010), has been stressful for many Caribbean people, as the news of the largest Earthquake to hit the Island of Haiti in 200 years occurred. Devastation is the word being used by many in the media to sum up  the tragedy.

To make matters worst, the global economic melt down has left the beautiful island of  Jamaica’s economy in chaos, so much that the country is on the verge of taking out a loan with the (IMF).

The question on my mind is what will this mean for the Jamaican citizens, as prices in every sector have gone up since January 1st of 2010. How can a country so fertile, beautiful and free in so many ways, struggle in so many other ways?

People considering a move to Jamaica need to be aware of this current climate and do your research wisely.

Listen & Read

IMF agrees in principle to Jamaica loan

Applying for Jamaican Work Permits

I recently shared with you the readers an article I saw in the Gleaner Newspaper about “Expats needing  work permits”. Each week I either receive emails on the topic or see questions on the topic at various Expat  forums chat boards. This week I noticed a followup article about the steps one would take when applying for a “Jamaican work permits” and decided to share.

As an expat it’s important to know, that you may be allowed to stay in the country for 3-6 months on a Holiday, but once you decide to seek employment a work permit will be required.

LAWS OF EVE – Applying for Jamaican work permits?
Published: Monday | May 11, 2009

Gleaner Newspaper (Flair Magazine)

By: Sherry-Ann McGregor

From the last article we know  of the  various categories of foreign nationals and Commonwealth citizens who must apply for work permits if they are to be employed in Jamaica. In this week’s article I will set out the documents which are required to be submitted to the Ministry of Labour when making applications for work permits:

1. Letter from local employer signed by director or company manager and addressed to the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Labour.

2. Completed work permit application forms.

3. Voucher for payment on non-refundable processing fee.

4. Proof of applicant’s academic and professional qualifications or letters of accreditation.

5. Applicant’s curriculum vitae outlining the applicant’s professional or business experience.

6. Police record issued by the security authority in the country or region where the applicant is domiciled.

7. Proof of business registration of local employer, such as business registration certificate or certificate of incorporation.

8. Copy of applicant’s contract of employment and job description.

9. Tax compliance certificate, if the local employer has been in operation for one year or more.

10. Certified copies of the pages of the applicant’s passport, which shows the applicant’s identity, passport number, dates of issue and expiry, landing status in Jamaica and relevant visa (where applicable).

11. Two passport size photographs of professional quality taken no more than six months prior to the application, certified by a justice of the peace or a notary public.

13. Completed Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) form signed by the applicant.

14. Proof of advertisement of job. (This may not be required in all cases.)

The current processing fee is $14,400 and is payable at any branch of the National Commercial Bank. All the necessary documents are to be submitted to the Ministry of Labour and, once the application has been approved, the employer is required to pay a work permit fee of $108,000 per year.  note ( all fees are in Jamaican currency, US. $1.00 is JA $ 89.00 dollars)

It is advisable that applicants or local employers contact the Ministry of Labour or an attorney-at-law for further advice in completing applications for Jamaican work permits or work permit exemptions as the procedure will differ. The steps will also be different if the applicant is self-employed or if the application is being made for the first time or for renewal.

Sherry-Ann McGregor is a partner and mediator with the firm Nunes, Scholefield, DeLeon & Co.

Do I need a work permit? Jamaica

About twice a month I get emails about the above question, and while I have blogged about this particular topic one can never have too much information as it pertains to Jamaica and work permits.

I noticed a writer giving information on work permits in the local paper and felt the information may come in handy for people moving to Jamaica, so here is the article and link.

LAWS OF EVE – Do I need a work permit?
Published: Monday | May 4, 2009

Gleaner Newspaper (Flair Magazine)

By: Sherry-Ann McGregor

Most foreign nationals and Commonwealth citizens must obtain valid work permits from the Minister of Labour and Social Security if they are to work in Jamaica in accordance with the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act.

The act defines a Commonwealth citizen as a person who has that status pursuant to section 9 of the Jamaican Constitution and is not a citizen of Jamaica or a member state of the Caribbean Community.

Foreign national: Someone who is not a citizen of Jamaica, the Commonwealth or a member state of the Caribbean Community.

The failure of the Commonwealth citizen or foreign national (hereinafter called ‘foreign worker’) or his employer to obtain a valid work permit constitutes a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment at hard labour for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding $200, or both. The employer can only be prosecuted with the sanction of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Once a work permit has been granted, the foreign worker must engage in work in accordance with the terms and conditions of the permit. The minister has the discretion to vary or revoke it at any time. The foreign worker may be required to produce his work permit to a constable or an authorised person (for example an immigration officer) on demand or within three days.

Failure to comply without reasonable explanation makes that person liable to conviction and the individual may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment with or without hard labour, not exceeding three months, or a fine of $50.

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Permanent Residency In Jamaica

The Following article is written by: An American Retiree in Jamaica By John Casey
Published Mar 31, 2009

Permanent residency can be granted for retired people and those who have been employed in Jamaica for at least five years.  The process takes three years to complete, but it took five years for me.  This department of immigrations is not the most efficient.  My extra two years was a result of lost paperwork and lack of investigation by the clerks.

Each year you are required to visit the Kingston immigrations office where they will extend your temporary residency for another year.  At the same time you can purchase a multi entry visa.  A visa is a must if you plan on leaving the island during the coming year.  The visa and subsequent renewals require two trips to Kingston.  The first visit is to apply for the visa or renewal.  This process takes one week and proves that you are who you say you are.  The fee for each visa is JA $2,000.  I found obtaining the visa quite helpful as I travel two to three times a year for vacations and shopping trips.

Here is a list of the required “documents and particulars” to become a permanent resident:

1)      Valid National passport;

2)      Evidence of financial status and means of support – for example, particulars on pension, bank account, property owned and business investments;

3)      Birth certificate;

4)      Marital status – marriage certificate – particulars of spouse, children, and other dependents;

5)      Medical certificate – certificate of good health;

6)      Police certificate from the state which you are migrating;

7)      Two (2) passport size photos;

8)      Reasons for seeking permanent residence in Jamaica;

9)      Letters of references from two reputable citizens of Jamaica.

Permanent residency is usually granted to the following categories of persons:

A)    Wives of Jamaican nationals without meeting any residency requirements;

B)    Adults and minors who have claim to Jamaican nationality without meeting any residency requirements;

C)    Retired persons who have resided in Jamaica for at least three years;

D)    Persons employed in Jamaica after completing a period of residency of at least five years;

E)     Minors who have no claim to Jamaican nationality who have resided in the island for a period of 2-4 years.

The sooner these documents and particulars are presented to immigrations, the sooner they can begin their investigation.  The most difficult report for me to obtain was from the Massachusetts state police.  It was something that could not be done in person but only by mail or through the internet.  Even so, my initial request was lost.

Most of the other required information was much easier to produce.  Finding two reputable people to write a letter of reference is not easy for someone new to the island.  I was able to get these letters from prominent people in my neighborhood.  One area immigrations is very meticulous about is with the financial aspect.  They want to be assured that you will have ample funds for as long as you live and that your survivors will be taken care of.  Proving lifetime pension benefits requires statements from their source and not just check stubs.

Towards the end of the three year process, the police conduct interviews with you and your neighbors as part of their investigation into your conduct while living in Jamaica.  Besides the personal questions, they look around your home to see what kind of lifestyle you are living.  For this reason, and perhaps others, there isn’t any notice given before the interview.

I think the best advice I can offer you once the permanent residency process has been started is to turn in as quickly as possible all the information they require and to keep on top of them.  Calls to immigrations should be made a few times during the year so you can check on the progress of their investigation.  I failed to do that in the beginning and, as a result, it took nearly two additional years for them to complete their investigation.  It is better for them to know you well than not a t all.  Later…

Jamaicans Cry Out: We Want Work

The following article was published  on (Jan 11th, 2009) and I wanted to share it with you the readers. The entire world is currently experiencing an economic slow-down, and even Jamaica’s  employment situation looks bleak for many locals.

Last week, there was an article in the paper that showed pictures of over 600 people lined up in front of a bakery, looking for employment.

The Captain’s Bakery in Kingston’s owner said he placed an advertisement in the newspaper to fill ten vacant positions for his shop. Little did he expect over 600 women  to line up in the hot sun all day to apply for the jobs.

Several large companies surprised some employees by distributing “no return” letters to staff on December 31st. What a way to begin the New Year, for many?

People thinking of moving to Jamaica who plan to seek employment, need to be very aware of this job shortage situation, as several companies in the last week are forecasting massive redundancies. I get emails almost weekly, asking about how to seek employment here in Jamaica, and I try to be a honest as possibly.

Companies thinking of moving here and creating jobs, can do well in such an environment if they can create jobs to assist with this crisis. My advice is that all should do intense research before any upcoming move.


Published: Sunday | January 11, 2009

Arthur Hall and Avia Collinder, Sunday Gleaner Reporters

FROM THE tough inner-city communities in the Corporate Area to that quiet farming district in Westmoreland, the cry for jobs has been echoing across the island.

To underscore the problem, last week, 600 persons turned up to apply for 10 vacancies at The Captain’s Bakery and Grill in St Andrew.

“You have a job can give me?” one frustrated woman asked The Sunday Gleaner team, while others offered to do any sort of job that was available.

‘jobs, jobs and more jobs’

But this should come as no surprise to the Bruce Golding administration, which booted the People’s National Party out of power in 2007 with a promise to create “jobs, jobs and more jobs”.

Now, with thousands more Jamaicans losing their jobs in the past 12 months and indications that the worsening global economic crisis could cause many others to be sent home, the Ministry of Labour is pulling out all the stops to find new job opportunities.

Already, Labour Minister Pearnel Charles has announced that his ministry will be switching its focus from industrial disputes to human-resource development and looking Redundancies reported to the labour ministry

Continue reading “Jamaicans Cry Out: We Want Work”

New Hotel in; Kingston Jamaica

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There are currently two or three hotels in New Kingston Jamaica where potential Expats considering a move to Jamaica, initially stay while doing  that very important pre-arrival visit to the country. They are the Pegasus, the Hilton and the Terra Nova Hotels.

I have had varying feedback about all three mentioned, but peoples expectations generally differ. The following new Hotel may be the next best thing in Kingston,  but who knows at this point. I saw it at a site and decided to share it with you the readers. Contact them with questions.

Jamaica’s capital to get first new hotel in 40 years
By: Gay Nagle MyersJune 03, 2009

The Spanish Court Hotel will open its doors on June 14 as the first new hotel to open in Kingston, Jamaica, in more than 40 years.

JAM-Spanishcourt   Amenities at the 107-room, contemporary-style, urban hotel include spacious guestrooms accessorized with Jamaican-made fabrics and furnishings, complementary in-room and lobby WiFi, an infinity-edge lap pool and sundeck, a gym, a café and cocktail bar, and the Sky Terrace meeting space.

The hotel is on the site of the former Spanish Court shopping center. The Crissa Group, headed by owner and developer Christopher Issa, paid $12 million to acquire the center and transform it into the hotel, preserving the Spanish-style exterior and arches on the ground floor.

Room rates through June start at $135 per night, double. From July 1 through August, rates start at $145. The price includes breakfast and Internet access.

Expats & Job Opportunities in Jamaica

I receive emails almost weekly from individuals who are considering moving to Jamaica.  Some have very simple questions while others speak to major concerns such as Jamaica’s unemployment rate and the ease of employment for outsiders. These questions generally come from:

* Jamaicans living overseas who wish to return to the Island
* Expats who have visited the Island on numerous occasions and are seeking to relocate to Jamaica permanently
* Trailing spouses following their husbands – coming to Jamaica for work – who want to continue pursuing their own careers goals

I try to be as honest and straight-forward with my answers as possible. I share the fact that living in Jamaica is clearly manageable as the local population now exceeds 2.7 million. However, securing employment as an Expat may prove to be an extremely difficult task, especially if you have not done so prior to relocating. In fact, if you have not already secured employment with one of the embassies or multinational companies, finding work may be difficult if not impossible.

If you are moving to Jamaica as a trailing spouse, you may want to consider participating in volunteer activities during the first year of your relocation. This will afford time for you to learn your way around, better understand the Jamaican culture and decide how to best utilize your skills in the Jamaican business environment. I have often met with trailing spouses who arrive to the Island misguidedly thinking they will find a job in no time as their skills are highly needed here on the Island. Although it may be true that your skills are needed, the job you were familiar with in your home country may not be the same here on the Island; a fact that people will rarely share with you.

Priority is usually given to Jamaicans for most vacancies. Although some expats occasionally acquire positions, creating your own world of work tends to be more of the norm.

If you are a returning resident, you will need to revitalize the contacts in your old networks in order to facilitate your transition back to the island. You may also wish to leverage the fact that you will not need a work permit to work on the Island.

The current global economic crisis may serve to further exacerbate the issue of job creation for outsiders in developing countries. If you are considering moving to Jamaica and have not yet secured employment, you should seek to identify alternative methods of generating income. Options include establishing your own business or working online for companies located outside of Jamaica.

Bagged Sugarcane & Coconuts for Sale > local vender

It is not unusual to hear about Expats who moved to Jamaica for a specific job with a multinational company and after living here for a few years decided to remain in Jamaica. Many of them have recognized that Jamaica is a country that is open to new ideas and possibilities. As such, they have learned that it is sometimes easier to start your own business rather than working for another person. After all, Jamaica is not called a developing country without reason. Therefore, if you are leaning towards opening a new type of business, ensure that you do your market research wisely.

Continue reading “Expats & Job Opportunities in Jamaica”