The former Labour Department is now the Department of Labour and Workforce Development, as announced at a ceremony on Friday.

“This rebranding signifies a shift in the department’s focus, which is aimed at improving labour relations between employers and employees, and ensuring you have better a developed workforce in a territory,” said Louann Hodge, acting deputy secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration.

Deputy Premier Kye Rymer spoke at the ceremony on behalf of Premier Andrew Fahie, who was out of the territory.

Mr. Rymer acknowledged Labour’s reputation as the “work permit processing department” and said the renaming would increase awareness about its other functions, which include mitigating labour disputes, streamlining work permit processes, and implementing an updated labour code.

“It is hoped that from now on when the name of the Department of Labour and Workforce Development is said it will engender in all of us a positive mental image based on the work of a motivated staff whose out- put represents the true nature of this extremely beneficial department,” he said.

Michael Thomas, managing director of Clarence Thomas Ltd., credited the Employment Service Unit for helping to grow his company by referring qualified job applicants to him, and the senior labour officers for offering management advice.

Another speaker, Sherylene Francis, a compliance officer at Aramo Corporate Services, thanked the agency for helping land her at her current job.

Ms. Hodge also announced that the newly renamed department is preparing to launch orientation sessions for private sector employers to discuss the new Labour Code.

NRLI Minister Vincent Wheatley said he would work to fulfill the department’s mission by implementing programmes to address the needs of unskilled or economically disadvantaged belongers and Virgin Islanders.

He also mentioned plans to collect data on workforce needs and create partnerships with educational institutions and employers to develop curricula that address workforce deficiencies.