Government has signed a US $20 million loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank to boost the skills of secondary and post-secondary graduates entering the workforce.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, highlighted the importance of the Skills for the Future Programme today during the official signing ceremony at Government Headquarters on Bay Street, St. Michael.
Emphasising the importance of technical and vocational skills to the island’s development, he praised Government’s “active strategy” to train and retrain workers to take advantage of the opportunities at the end of the recession.
“This is critical for us because it [the recession] represents a period of not only restructuring, but retooling, to make Barbadians more capable of engaging an ever increasing and competitive global environment. So, this loan today places at our disposal, resources to do a number of things and, therefore, the objectives of the programme will look at how we can increase the effectiveness of technical and vocational education,” Sinckler stressed.
The minister also noted the importance of the programme to the future development of this country’s human resources.
“This [loan] not only demonstrates Government’s commitment to developing that single greatest resource that we have – our human resource – but it also demonstrates the confidence of the IDB in the Government of Barbados to achieve those objectives,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the IDB’s Country Representative, Joel Branski, described the loan as a continuation of the long-term partnership with the Government that had resulted in the creation of the Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.
He added: “Our commitment continues with today’s programme and both the Barbados Community College and the Polytechnic stand to benefit from this new operation.
“Support for education in Barbados is a key component of the bank’s country strategy and we are very happy to partner with the Government in the preparation of its Human Resource Development Strategy,” Branski emphasised.
The specific objectives of the project, which is one of the components of Government’s Human Resource Development Strategy, include garnering support for an employer-driven training system; support for improving the teaching of core skills; institutional strengthening; business plan development and implementation; and leadership training and capacity building.