One of the main problems students face upon completion of their studies at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) is “where to go next?”.
These students wrestle with the idea of finding jobs, establishing their own businesses or putting their true interest aside to follow instead a more practical route. But in an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning, Joy Prime, an instructor in garment technology said this dilemma should soon be minimized.
Speaking amid a showcase hosted by the Human Ecology Department at the institution in The Pine, St Michael, she said today’s Open Day was an opportunity for students to get their work recognized.
Prime said it was also a chance to get the students to understand that what they were doing was a business and they now had to look at a product.
“Right now in manufacturing, if they go into the industry, they can work for a factory for minimum wage or go out on their own. And lots of them, we find, still aren’t prepared for what they have to do. What I find is that they want to be fabulous designers; they end up being realistic and start making uniforms, and lots of them actually just come out of the industry altogether because they have to survive,” she said.
So one of the things the SJPP is trying to do is develop programmes that help young people take what was given to them at the institute to another level.
“We think that the garment industry in Barbados really needs to get back where it was, where we were exporting, where we were responsible for a significant amount of GDP. We want to get back there, and it is possible because the industry is massive, it is a multibillion-pounds industry; and so it is really a matter of working out how do you get the young people to tap into that. And what we see is not just what we do here; when we finish with the course we have to take it further. They go to [Barbados Community College], but yet we still have to do another level with them, and that is really what we are working at,” Prime said.
“This is the myth, that everybody comes here and they learn garment technology, they go to BCC and they learn how to design and they think that to be a designer is the only thing. But in the industry there are designers, pattern technologists –– separate skills on its own –– and there are people who do marketing, research.
“It is an opportunity for the students because we are trying to get them to think of their product in terms of enterprise. We teach them skills but we want them to understand that if they can’t go out there and get a job, they can market themselves and get work,” she added.