Tourism and the labour market in St. Eustatius - Characteristics and perceptions
Tourism is an attractive development option for countries where other alternatives for development are limited. It namely creates among others opportunities for jobs. St. Eustatius, a small island in the Caribbean Sea, is an example of a country which would like to develop tourism. Therefore, it is developing a Tourism Master plan which aims at doubling the number of tourism related jobs from approximately 150 in 2014 to 300 in 2020. This study contributes to the Tourism Master plan by creating an understanding of the labour market in general and the tourism labour market more specifically in St. Eustatius. In order to create an understanding of the Statian (tourism) labour market the characteristics of the labour market and how these characteristics can be explained were firstly examined. By means of semi-structured interviews with local experts on the (tourism) labour market and document analysis it appeared that St. Eustatius' labour market is small, static, lacks diversity and has a lot of small businesses. In addition, it is dominated by three large employers, respectively the government, the oil firm NuStar, and the tourism sector of which NuStar is the biggest private employer. Furthermore, the third largest employer, the tourism sector, is perceived to offer high potential for economically developing the island. A last characteristic is that it is difficult to match demand for and supply of labour with each other as there exists a lack of qualified people and motivation among potential candidates. Several external factors were found to influence the labour market. Firstly, the physical geography of the island causes the island and its population number to be small. Opportunities are therefore limited, which contributes to the labour market being small, static, lacking diversity and having many small businesses. Also, the political economic situation contributes to this as political instability and lack of island government's budget complicates the island government to invest in the economy. Laws and regulations impede the population to set up businesses. In addition, culture plays a role, since the way of working and work attitude is affected by this. This influences for example the level of motivation to work. Another factor is education. Brain drain is a problem occurring on St. Eustatius, as many students do not return to the island after graduation. As a consequence, workers are brought in from abroad or foreign entrepreneurs start a company on St. Eustatius. A last external factor is the organizations on the island which influence the labour market by giving trainings, fitting vocational education to the labour market, striving for a favourable investment climate, acting as an intermediary between matching demand for and supply of labour, etc. The labour market is also influenced by the independent decisions which people make. People's decision to stay in or quit a job is affected by their job satisfaction. Moreover, whether they decide to work in a certain sector is affected by their perceptions of this sector and other sectors in the economy. These perceptions (with a special focus on the perceptions on the tourism sector) were examined by means of a self-administered survey, which was handed out to employees working in the government sector, tourism sector and private sector. First of all, total job satisfaction appeared to be equal for the government, tourism and private sector employees. However, tourism employees were more satisfied with ''The way company policies are put into practice'' than government employees. They were least satisfied with ''The pay and amount of work'', but most satisfied with ''The chance to do things for others''. This research also examined what people found important in a job and whether they thought jobs in the three largest sectors on the island could offer them what they perceive as important in a job. The four most important job factors were respectively ''A job that I will find enjoyable'', ''A secure job'', a ''Pleasant working environment'', and ''A job which gives responsibility''. Although the three sectors were in general perceived as not offering what employees found to be important in a job, NuStar wasmost positively perceived regarding offering the job factors which are valued important, followed by respectively the government and the tourism sector. In addition, perceptions on the economic sectors on Statia were investigated with a particular focus on the tourism sector. ''A job that I will find enjoyable'', ''Colleagues that I can get along with'', a ''Pleasant working environment'', ''The opportunity to travel abroad'' and ''A job where I can care for others'' was perceived to be offered by the tourism sector compared to the government and NuStar. However, the respondents perceived the tourism sector as providing the least ''Good starting salary'' compared to the government and NuStar. All of the above functioned as input to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats regarding the tourism labour market. The strengths 'Satisfied with jobs' (S1) and 'Positive image regarding a few job aspects compared to the government and NuStar' (S3) (e.g. enjoyable job, pleasant working environment, etc.) were the most important strengths of the tourism labour market. etc.). The largest weakness was 'Skill deficit: low level of service in the sector' (W5) and the biggest opportunity was the 'STDF (promotes, advices the government, raises awareness)' (O4). Lastly, the greatest threats to the tourism labour market were 'Lack of qualified people on the island' (T2) and 'Positions in the tourism sector are mainly occupied by foreigners' (T3).
Based on the results general recommendations regarding the development of the tourism sector and in particular recommendations regarding the tourism labour market were made:
Collect reliable statistical data Without reliable statistical data, it is more complicated to design a proper general labour market policy and tourism labour market policy in particular.
Increase tourist accommodation by means of attracting investors More tourist accommodation needs to be build in order to develop the tourism sector and create jobs on St. Eustatius.
Improve the island's accessibility The island's accessibility (i.e. via air and sea) should be improved in order to develop the tourism sector and create jobs on St. Eustatius.
Prevent the construction of a second oil terminal of NuStar The realization of a second oil terminal of NuStar on St. Eustatius should be prevented as it would hamper the development of the tourism sector and its potential to be a job generator.
In order to stimulate local employment in the tourism sector, also recommendations with regard to the tourism labour market were created:
Emphasize positive aspects of working in the tourism sector This could be done by presenting at the career fair, giving information at schools and making the tourism market labour information open to the public.
Improve the conditions of employment Several strategies were proposed, like raising salaries, introducing career ladders and increasing the level of job security.
Stabilize the island government As the island government should be the key player in the labour market, it is recommended to stabilize.
Develop human capital Ways for developing human capital are assembling tourism employers on the island in order to subsequently form a network, let people who are brought in from abroad for a specific job train locals, so that they can fill up the gap if that person leaves again, let tourism students do an internship at one of the neighbouring islands, and let tourism employers offer possibilities for further training to their employees.