90 jobs, no takers

eGov Jamaica Limited has trouble replacing skilled staff

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, July 09, 2018

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Government's information and communications technology (ICT) company, eGov Jamaica Limited, still has more than 90 vacancies for technical staff, although it has hired 74 new employees over the past two years.

The startling recruitment situation was revealed in answers obtained from eGov last weekend by the Jamaica Observer as the company prepared responses to questions raised by Opposition members of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) at the end of its meeting last Wednesday.

According to information from eGov, it has lost 59 employees, including 52 from its technical staff, since January 1, 2016, and although it has managed to recruit 74 new staffers, including 68 for its technical departments, there are still more than 90 technical vacancies.

Of the 59, 28 left for better job opportunities and 20 migrated, even though ICT jobs would allow them to work from Jamaica.

The basic issue, according to an eGov source, is earnings from Government posts compared to the private sector.

“The problem is to find people who want to work for government-level salaries when there is such a high demand for their skills in the private sector, both here and abroad,” the source said.

The company says that, while it is unable to provide a sufficiently attractive alternative to migration, or compete on equal terms with the private sector, it has done its best to retain its staff.

“We have implemented strategies to attract and retain talent, particularly tertiary undergraduates and graduates,” the source stated.

These include the internship programme in place with The University of the West Indies at Mona; the University of Technology, Jamaica; Portmore Community College; and the Vocational Training Development Institute.

The internship programme has proven to be useful in attracting graduates from these institutions to apply for entry-level technical jobs in the company as follows: Number of interns for the period July 2016-July 2018 — 43; number of cohorts during the 2016-2018 period — six; and, percentage of interns who were eventually employed over the same period — 16 per cent.

A number of other issues pertaining to the operations at eGov surfaced recently at the PAAC meeting, courtesy of former minister of technology and current Opposition spokesman Phillip Paulwell, which the committee is expected to discuss as early as this week.

Among them questions asked by Paulwell was how many times the board had met over the past two years, and what was the cost to the Government. He also asked what were the total payments made to its chairman, Dr Lloyd Waller, since he assumed that post.

According to information from eGov, Waller has only been paid $18,500 in fees for 2018/19, and there has been no expenditure based on directives from him since assuming the position.

In response to questions about the frequency of board meetings, eGov says that there have been 89 meetings of its board and related committees since 2016, including 35 actual board meetings and 54 meetings of the committees.

It has denied the payment of $500,000 to a delisted lawyer, as well as any involvement with a trip to an e-governance meeting in Estonia by its chairman.

In regard to questions about who hired the current human resources director, the company said that it followed its policy manual for the hiring process, and that the 16 candidates were evaluated using a matrix developed and approved by its human resources committee.

eGov is a full-service, Government-owned ICT company that offers a wide range of services to various clients, including ICT consultancy, government validation web services, data centre (hosting and data storage), infrastructure design and deployment services (network communication, hardware, security, technical support), and software development/acquisition (development, acquisition, software quality assurance).

It was incorporated in Jamaica under the Companies Act as a limited liability company on April 15, 1985, and commenced operations in April 1986. The Revenue Board, on behalf of the Government, held the authorised shares initially, which were subsequently transferred in March 1991 to the accountant general.

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