No jobs for pharmacy graduates
Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus says a national needs assessment must be conducted to determine how many pharmacists are required to service this country.
Baptiste-Primus made the suggestion after hearing complaints from President of the Pharmacy Board Andrew Rahaman who said there were many more pharmacists than pharmacy jobs that are available.
Rahaman appeared before a Joint Select Committee on Wednesday enquiring into the regulation and operations of pharmacies in Trinidad and Tobago.
Rahaman told the Committee that the industry is over-saturated with hundreds of qualified pharmacists unable to find jobs locally. While some are able to get jobs in the public health system, Rahaman said there are too many to be absorbed into the private sector.
He said, as a result, the Pharmacy Board has been inundated with requests for employment assistance and this is expected to increase when a new batch of graduates leaves the University of the West Indies later this year.
But while there is a scarcity of jobs for pharmacists in this country, other countries have a shortage or pharmacists and many graduates have been forced to take jobs in other countries, he lamented.
He added that when this happens, the country loses the investment that would have been put into their education through the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme.
"They get the education free and then go and give the service to foreign countries.”
Rahaman noted that foreign nationals have however been granted work permits to practice as pharmacists in this country.
He said he was against this as locals should be given first preference for jobs.
“Because for quite some time the government would have been paying for their education and I think that they should be given the opportunity to work here.”
Chairman of the Committee Dr Varma Deyalsingh questioned whether students going into university to study to become pharmacists were being made aware of the situation as the University of the West Indies continues to "churn out" graduates.
Baptiste-Primus took note of the concerns and said a needs assessment must be done.
She said locals must not be left aside while non-nationals are able to get jobs.