by Robert D. Lucas
Recently, on the call-in program “Down to Brass Tacks” of 11th February 2011, there was some discussion about the merits of an application for a work permit for a “Fresh Food Specialist,” as advertised for by Super Centre Limited. As a result, someone from the firm called the program, to clarify the nature of the requirements for the job. These requirements included a knowledge of fresh as well as delicatessen food handling capabilities.
Let me first of all, declare an interest, having in the past, taught members of the Environmental Health Department (EHD) of the Ministry of Health at the Barbados Community College (BCC). Students are first required to do an associate degree in public health and then the post graduate diploma in a programme called “Meats and other Foods.”
The curriculum for Meats and other Foods is as follows: meat inspection, poultry inspection, fruits and vegetables, cereals and grains, science of red and white meats, milk and fish technology, hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) programs, environmental microbiology, management, organic chemistry and food chemistry. In addition, sampling acceptance of foods by attributes is also taught. Under fruits and vegetables, the students are taught the biochemistry of the ripening process with emphasis placed on the role of ethylene. The classification of fruits as climacteric and non-climacteric (the former undergoing color changes). The storage of fruits and vegetables by modified atmospheric packaging or controlled atmospheric storage and the calculation of refrigeration load during chill and frozen storage.
Under HACCP, the students are exposed to current good manufacturing practices (cGMP), current good agricultural practices (cGAP), sanitary standard operating procedures (SSOP), chemical and pesticide agent control program, pest control, allergen control, chemical and microbial risk assessment and food recall programs.
The advertisement which appeared in the newspaper of February 11, 2011 claimed that no suitable applications were received. I checked with some of my past students to get some feedback. It appeared that most had not seen the original advertisement and those who had, wondered what was meant by a “Fresh Food Specialist.” There was also some reticence about leaving a perceived safe government job for one in the private industry. I also discovered that a couple of them were not working in EHD, one was actually teaching.
In the past, I have noticed many applications for work permits in which the job title and requirements are obfuscated. I have a problem with this. Barbadians, especially under the current economic conditions, should have first choice when jobs are being advertised. As can be seen from what I have outlined above, a student doing the above program is more than capable of handling the post of “Fresh food Specialist” as advertised. I am therefore, lodging an objection to the granting of a work permit today, to the Chief Immigration officer.
Robert D. Lucas, PH.D.