Barbados’ worrying unemployment problem has apparently left graduates of the University of the West Indies’ campus here virtually unscathed.
As it prepares to launch a major new push towards science and technology in partnership with telecommunications company LIME and other corporate players, the head of the Cave Hill Campus has revealed research showing 80 per cent of the institution’s graduates were finding employment within the first six months of trying.
Principal Professor Sir Hilary Beckles was speaking this morning at UWI’s administration building, where UWI and LIME officials launched the 2012/2013 telephone directory cover, which focusses on the Barbados campus’ 50th anniversary.
He suggested the statistic, which was better than UWI’s other campuses in Jamaica and Trinidad, was a virtual vindication of the targeted programmes pursued at Cave Hill over the last 10 years.
“When you hear comments such as ‘Cave Hill has expanded its population’, it was not random – we didn’t go out in the streets and pick up people. We focussed the growth in areas where we knew the economy needed to be supported and where the students in turn on graduating could find jobs,” he said.
“So it was a planned and strategic expansion; this was reflected in the fact that the surveys that have been done have shown that about 80 per cent of our graduates find a job in the first six months and this is really very good.
“We felt good about this because the graduate surveys were done across the campuses and Cave Hill came out looking quite good, that over three quarters of our graduates find a job in the first six months.
“This is excellent for Cave Hill because what it shows [is] that we do not have an unemployment crisis among our graduates and it also shows that our growth was targeted and scientifically implemented,” Sir Hilary added.
The noted historian said having reaped success in the previous focus on Social Sciences, he and his team were now making a big push to focus on science and technology, where they expected the jobs of the future to be.
Sir Hilary said UWI’s science and technology initiative was “designed to transform the Cave Hill campus, to move it to some extent away from the services economy model, which is what we had developed, more to the science and technology economic development model, and of course ICT is a critical part of that”.
He announced that in recent days LIME had agreed to triple its broadband at UWI free of cost, and that discussions were ongoing with Simpson Oil Limited for a renewable energy venture.
“We have a whole range of programmes that we are going to be rolling out to change the dynamics of the Cave Hill campus and to launch the platform of technology and science. It’s going to be very exciting and the 50th year will see all of this,” he said.
The principal was also excited about the likelihood that the new science and technology focus would be a magnet to young males. UWI’s current enrollment is 70 per cent in favour of females, but the current science and technology intake is evenly split, he noted.
“The science and technology initiative is going to see a greater degree of university resources directed to science and technology. In this strategic plan going forward 2012 (to) 2017, that has just been approved by the university, this is where Cave Hill is going to make a greater investment. It’s going to deal also with the issue of our corporate stakeholders, because this is an area of development that requires a stronger investment from our corporate supporters,” the official explained. (SC)