A University of the West Indies economics lecturer and church leader is warning Barbadians they must adapt to the current downturn or perish.
Addressing the annual general meeting of the Barbados Evangelical Association at the Faith Wesleyan Holiness Church in Jackman’s, St Michael last night, Dr Clifton Charles suggested that Barbadians retool by finding new skills tobecome marketable in alternative areas of employment.
Charles, who is also head of the Grace Communion, a member body of the BEA, cited a situation where his organisation was reaching out to a woman to see if she needed help in the face of the present economic difficulties. He recalled the woman insisting she did not need any assistance because she had foreseen the challenges and had not only taken action to settle her debts, but had also enrolled in a computer and cooking courses.
“What you are finding her doing is re-tooling, trying to develop new skills so that she becomes marketable in other areas; and those are some very practical things that our people can begin to do. In the re-skilling aspect, Charles cited a situation he encountered during a recent classroom lecture, which made him point out that technology was causing people to have to adapt and adjust.
“And I had to ask the question, do you like to adapt and adjust? And I heard a resounding no throughout the class.
And so, what I did was to ask them to consider their smart phones; that those smart phone companies that failed to adapt in a timely manner, what happened to them? And all of them told me they went out of business.”
The economics lecturer said he then asked the students to consider the implications for themselves. “It means, if you fail to adapt or adjust . . . the rule is, adapt or perish; and they got the message,” he added.
Charles suggested that even though people may not like it, they have to appreciate the age in which they live, with rapid technologies and globalisation. “[W]e’ve got to be prepared to adapt or adjust, or otherwise, we’re not going to make it. We are a relatively well-educated people, [so] there is no reason why we can’t . . . adjust.”
The university economist believed people might need a cultural shift and felt Barbadians had the capability to do it. During contributions from the floor, a 15-year-old St Leonard’s student delivered an inspiring testimony of the benefits of adapting and adjusting in light of the current economic decline.
Shakeen Coggin’s personal story was punctuated by frequent loud applause from the gathering, as he relived an unusual entrepreneurial experience, where he raised substantial sums of money by selling hundreds of giant African snails at a time when his mother and father had lost their jobs.
Coggin’s ability to “think outside the box” and pursue a daring endeavour despite discouragement from his mother, father and the “boys on the block”, was praised by the BEA conference.
The student also told of how he was able to give his parents money, including his grandmother – the only one who had his back – travel overseas during his summer holiday to spent time with relatives and even packed a barrel for his family.
Representative of the Islamic community, Sabir Nakuda urged the church to take a leaf out of their book by working together, pooling their resources to help their own in need, as well as others in the community.