Barbados’ Human Resource Development Strategy promotes the creation of an environment which fosters demand-driven education, training and lifelong learning. However, agriculture has also been given an important place in this national development programme.
Serving as the fifth pillar in the five-prong Strategy, agriculture is recognised as a significant driver of economic activity in developing countries; and Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo has acknowledged that the challenges which this sector faces could be partly remedied through amelioration of human resource factors.
Addressing the HRDS Orientation Seminar for Entrepreneurial Bodies at the Ministry’s headquarters Tuesday, she noted: “For a high level of development to occur in the agricultural sector there must be close cooperation and interaction between schools, universities and other post-secondary institutions, scientists, extension advisers, growers, and agriculture-related industries.
“In the short-term, Barbados must develop industry professionals in the agricultural sector similar to what obtains in other industries. The agricultural industry must also be able to work with investors, financial accountants, attorneys-at-law, economists, human resource managers, international business specialists, marketers, and other professionals who understand, indeed specialise in, the workings of commercial agricultural activities to be able to offer the kind of advice necessary for economic growth.”
With studies indicating that the second generation of post-independence Barbados is less opposed to being employed within the agriculture sector, the minister said that there was hope for the advancement of the sector.
“Indeed, agriculture provides opportunities for young researchers, professionals, and entrepreneurs to apply scientific principles, modern techniques, and innovative technologies to the development of commercially viable solutions to complex problems…
“There must also be a seamless application of all the pillars of the HRD Strategy to the agricultural sector and with Government’s focus on the development of a green economy, there is significant potential, especially among entrepreneurial bodies like those represented here today, to play a more discerning role in the further development of our agricultural sector,” she maintained.
Talk of advancement in any sphere must include the role of Information and Communications Technology, with the labour minister noting that the cultural and creative industries have now developed global viability and appeal.
“They have come to be included in a distinct sector where the creation, production, and marketing of goods and services are combined. We have seen in Barbados the economic activity generated around cultural events, such as is happening in this Crop-Over season.
“As a consequence, it is Government’s intention to enhance relevant curricula, strengthen legislation on copyright and intellectual property rights, and develop an enabling environment in which cultural enterprises can thrive, so that, with your assistance of course, more citizens can be encouraged in this area in their search for viable career paths.
Barbados ICT land line and mobile infrastructure, along with a high level of Internet access places it in a strategic position to take advantage of ICT development, the minister observed, adding that “These factors need to be effectively leveraged in the development of ICT related research activities. In this regard, government will continue to develop linkages with agencies that support the development of the national research and educational networks so that ICT can serve as a catalyst for the development of innovative businesses, products, and services while providing a competitive advantage for companies in many sectors.”
The fifth pillar of the HRDS, which focuses on Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Agriculture, also features similar goals for the scientific, small business and cultural industries.