The head of one of the island’s largest private sector groups sees no cause for concern about the fall off in enrolment at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus.
In fact, president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Tracey Shuffler is confident the numbers will rise again. What her 250-member organization is concerned about, however, is whether enough people are being trained in the areas that will require specialized skills in the future.
“I believe that the level of enrolment will find a balance. It has been a shock to some young people who are trying to finance their education, but I think Barbadians are quite resilient and there will be mechanisms put in place where I believe enrolment will find a reasonable level,” she told Barbados TODAY, responding to a 28.51 per cent decline in total student registration at the start of the university’s 2014/2015 academic year.
“However, what we want to ensure is that the right kinds of educational programmes are in effect at the tertiary level to support the business needs into the future.”
“What we are looking at as a business community is what is our economy going to look like in ten years. Do we have a good grip and understanding of the skills that will be necessary to feed those industries in ten or 15 years and, if we do understand that, what are we doing to make our young people ready?” questioned Shuffler.
She identified the area of renewable energy as one such industry.
The BCCI president said that as the sector continued to expand and the economy gravitated towards that technology, there would be a need for more specialized training.
“Engineering is also an area that could be strengthened, in terms of availability of strong engineering to help support the economy and, of course, the right understanding and matriculation in business is critical as well,” she added.
The BCCI in 2011 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UWI, focused on the Faculty of Social Sciences. Under the agreement the university carries out research for the BCCI, among other things, while the chamber offers summer internship programmes for students.