The Caribbean Community (Caricom) said it will be implementing a harmonised skills certificate with a range of security features under the Caricom Single Market & Economy (CSME) regime.
The aim of this initiative, it said, is to reduce or eliminate the instances of people falsifying the skills certificate issued by Caricom member states.
“There have been very few documented cases of fraudulent documentation in relation to the skills certificates process. That being said, in the decisions relating to the skills certificate, Caricom agreed to a format for a harmonised certificate and the verification process to assist member states in maintaining the integrity of the system,” the Caricom Secretariat told OBSERVER media in response to our email query.
In recent weeks, a Jamaican national, Wayne Osbourne Edwards, gained entry into Antigua & Barbuda by presenting a fake skills certificate which stated that he was a security expert. He later got a job as a security manager and was posted at a major distribution company where security is very crucial to its operations.
The authority said, “It is expected that as with any official document, attempts may be made to falsify information and member states have been verifying the Caricom skills certificates to ensure validity. This is done by contacting the issuing authority. Where a case of fraud is found, it shows that the verification processes are working.”
In the meantime, Caricom said that an electronic system for the application of skills certificates is being implemented using the CSME Application Processing System (CAPS), which was developed in 2015 and member states are to launch the system.
The secretariat said the printed certificate to be issued via this system will include certain security features and the verification process will be quicker as the information is already on the system.
Caricom said implementation of CAPS has already commenced in two member states, and it is expected that when all Caricom countries are fully using the system, it will be harder to falsify certificates.
When asked how much this would cost, the regional body said it would be challenging to state a specific cost for the execution of the initiative at this time “because the work to tweak these matters and to implement the CSME is ongoing and the verification process is working”.
Meanwhile, Caricom said continued public education about the CSME Skills certificate is critical to allay the numerous fears associated with the movement of people.
“The Caricom Secretariat, in support of member states, continues to undertake several engagements with stakeholders and the general public to address regional integration processes and to also garner critical feedback,” the authority said.
Over the last two years, the secretariat has carried out and continues to implement a number of public education, communication and training exercises across the region and in specific member states, targeting the media, youth, labour, private and public sectors, immigration officers and other groups.
In addition to university graduates, the skills regime includes media workers, musicians, artistes, sportspersons, holders of associate degrees, registered nurses, teachers, artisans with a Caricom vocational qualification, and household domestics with a Caricom vocational qualification.