Minister of Labour Esther Byer-Suckoo is appealing to Barbadians to
erase the stigma associated with technical and vocational education training.
In addition, Byer-Suckoo has called on private sector entities and
learning institutions to play a greater role in supplying policymakers with
information regarding the requisite type of training needed to meet the
demand in the various industries.
She said oftentimes when meetings were called and employers were
asked to come and share their views the same few people would show up
Byer-Suckoo was speaking at the end of the two-day Skills for the
Future Barbados 2014 conference at the Hilton on Tuesday.
“We talk about the stigma and it is so important for parents and
students to understand what technical and vocational education training is,”
“If we can help our students and their parents to tear away that stigma
that is associated with it then they wouldn’t hang their head in shame when
a parent sees another parent in the supermarket and one says my son is
gone off to Trinidad to do engineering, what is your son doing?” she added.
She said: “Let us try to tear away at that stigma that we have been
talking about. We have been talking about it but we also need to make sure
in our own personal dialogues when we speak we don’t say ‘he is just a
plumber or he is only doing construction work or he didn’t get through so
he is over at skills training’. Let us take those words out of our vocabulary
it is the only place we can begin. We have to change the dialogue”.
The minister said there needed to be “some serious curriculum
reform”, adding that students and parents should also have an input in
She said the new curriculum would require “new methodologies and
new tools”, adding that it was not just a job for government but for
“I am thinking right away that I need to look at some of the committees
we have and see if I have enough representation from the private sector
and from the training agencies to ensure that that can happen. From
tomorrow I want to see educators on board telling us what they need and I
need to see educators on board telling us what they need,” she said.
The mother of three said it was critical for officials at learning
institutions and parents to encourage children to
study what they wanted to do even if there was not yet a market for
“By doing so, said Byer-Suckoo, new industries could be created here
along with new employment opportunities and new economic drivers.
“We need to have our children thinking that they can [study] anything
and come back home and create an industry with it . . . If we want to talk
about innovation that is what we have to tell our children,” she said. (MM)