The Caribbean island of Barbados has been a luxurious hideaway for the rich and famous for years. Miles of white sandy beaches encircled by azure water make it a true paradise on earth. This popular holiday destination has been a haven for temporary seasonal workers, as there are lots of opportunities to work in the paradise isle and not always in the most obvious industries. If all this makes you fancy working in the pristine beauty of Barbados’ luscious, tropical surroundings, read on to find out more.
The first and most obvious type of work available is in the hospitality industry. There are dozens of hotels dotted along the coastlines and each one provides a top-notch service to thousands of guests each year. Tourism is the island’s biggest industry and the backbone of its economy; therefore they take any customer service position very seriously. Many of the resorts offer employment to overseas workers and would probably look favorably on a young British applicant bursting with enthusiasm. Some examples of the jobs on offer are waiting staff, hostesses, receptionists, golf caddies, nannies, bar staff and many more. Of course, it would be easier for them to hire local Bajans (nationals of Barbados) than to hire from overseas to avoid the fuss of organising work permits – so you need to make your application shine!
Do you have an unusual skill or qualification that may impress them – are you a qualified beauty therapist? Are you a trained tennis/golf/fitness instructor or nanny? Do you speak foreign languages? Have you completed any relevant computer or customer service training that means you have more in-depth knowledge of the industry? These are all questions you should ask yourself in regards to working in Barbados.
The best way to secure work in one of the resorts is to use an international staffing agency such as www.caribbeanjobs.com and www.catererglobal.com. If you’d prefer to work in a business capacity then a fantastic agency that offers long-term work positions in Barbados and elsewhere is www.michaelpage.com – their work sectors include finance, legal, accounting, construction, leisure and insurance. A perfect start for any professional wanting to gain experience abroad whilst traveling! It is unlikely that accommodation will be provided but the cost of living is considerably cheaper in Barbados than many other countries. In fact, compared with Europe the salaries are uniformly high, and with the favorable tax position British residents are roughly 50% better off. This would leave you with enough money to easily afford a house-share or apartment in one of the smaller towns outside Bridgetown, which has far cheaper rental prices.
If you don’t fancy working in a resort hotel and want more of a party atmosphere, how does a pirate ship sound? The famous Jolly Roger Tours are an event not to be missed. Imagine going back 300 years to the times of Captain Jack and the Black Pearl to embark on a journey like no other, a voyage on the Jolly Roger! With its colossal scarlet sail and skull and crossbones flag billowing in the wind, landlubbers are hauled to sea for a party like no other. Combining tropical sunshine, clear waters and plenty of rum this is a good time with a difference; patrons can sunbathe, boogie, snorkel or walk the plank. These tours are very popular in Barbados and they are always on the lookout for waiters, barmen, chefs, snorkel aids and lifeguards – as well as wenches and pirates to get the crowd going. There are also helicopter tours that offer the ultimate discovery trip above the island’s gorgeous landscape. So if anyone out there has a pilot license or is keen to learn, try Bajan Helicopter Tours. The company offers extensive touring around the islands and would always be open to inquiries from foreign pilots. The website with more information on all the tours and boat rides available on the island (which could help you contact the individual companies directly) is www.funbarbados.com.
A surprising job opportunity that Barbados and many other islands offer is working as a nanny. The Caribbean and the Bahamas have a huge ex-pat community made up of Brits, Europeans and Americans that predominately work in high-earning and often hard-working sectors, and therefore they are constantly on the look-out for reliable, honest and caring nannies/au pairs and child-minders to look after their children. If you have childcare experience or preferably a qualification from a UK college then an American family would snap you up. (It’s the whole Mary Poppins thing – they expect you to whistle and fly up banisters!) But seriously, it’s a hidden market that often pays extremely well, and given the fact you’ll be living in with the family your expenses will be considerably low meaning more bang for your buck. However, the low side can be that you’re on call all hours of the day and the family may treat you like a servant, asking for laundry service and errands when that clearly isn’t in your job description. The best thing to do is to work through a registered international nanny agency, so that you have someone to contact if you are unsatisfied with something your host family is doing. It is also comforting to know that there is someone looking after your interests rather than taking the risks of going it alone. One such international nanny agency is www.newaupair.com, which provides adverts and in-depth knowledge on the industry as well helping with placements, insurance, flights and work-permits. There will be rigorous checks on all your history by any agency you’ll go with, so if you have a criminal record or done anything you’re not so proud of in the past they will find out and if it is seen as a potential risk against children then you won’t get the job. You will also be required to provide airtight references that are so amazingly fantastic they really will think you’re Mary Poppins!
Another fantastic opportunity is to work as a scuba instructor. Barbados has some of the most varied and astoundingly unique dive spots in the world, as the charcoal grey corals combined with multicolored marine wildlife provide some of the most breathtaking underwater views you’ll ever see. For that reason, Barbados has dozens of dive schools and teaching centers that all hire international instructors. As well as that, individual hotels and resorts often offer dive experiences to their guests – therefore opening up even more possibilities for instructors on the island. In order to become qualified as an instructor you’ll have to complete the basic training and gain the primary diving master qualification before you go. It is best to achieve this at home and many institutions offer the scheme for a nominal fee, check out www.crystalinstructors.co.uk or www.scubapursuits.com for more details on courses in the UK. More information on particular dive jobs in Barbados and the Caribbean can be seen on www.traveltree.com.
Now, unfortunately, for the boring part of what you need to know about working in paradise – work permits. There are no limitations on who may work apply for a Barbados work permit, but immigration policy requires people who can offer some skill or expertise which supplements the domestic job market. The form you need to apply for is ‘Form C1’ or if you’re working for less than six months, ‘Form C3’. You will need to have secured employment with a registered employer before applying for the visa, as it’s necessary for you to provide the address and official name of where you will be working. There are also lengthy forms to complete regarding the nature of the job, your marital status, whether you have dependents and so on. Yes, very boring, but at least you know what to expect! It is also necessary for any work permit applicant to provide a detailed history of their previous work history within the three years prior to them making the application. All relevant details including contact, salary and hours of all that work will be required – so it’s a time-consuming (but hopefully worthwhile) process. A fee of BDS$100 is payable at the time of application and annual fees if you’re planning to stay for a while should also be expected but the amount varies according to the type of work involved.
If any of those jobs appeal to you, and you wouldn’t mind spending six months to a year working in this chilled and tropical Caribbean island, check out the websites and ask recruiters. Living, working and experiencing paradise is possible, so as a unique Bajan cab driver once told me:
“Hey Mon, say hello to Barbados!”