Barbados has reached a deciding moment of its history and major decisions must be taken as to which road it travels from here, Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo today suggested.
“We have come essentially to a fork in the road,” Byer-Suckoo told finalists in the WorldSkills Barbados Competition 2016 at the Almond Bay this morning. She added that the time had come for Barbadians to decide where they wanted to go from here, and “where do we want to take Barbados and what values will we need to get there.
“We want a Barbados in 50 years time or more to be a Barbados where everybody can achieve their goals and full potential and whatever it is that you dream you can be you can and can make a living out of it,” she said.
The WorldSkills competition is an international vocational education and skills excellence event that challenges youth to demonstrate technical abilities both individually and collectively to execute specific tasks for which they study and/or perform in their workplace.
The local competition targets 16 to 22-year-old students enrolled in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions.
The minister told the competitors that it was important that they strive for excellence for their own benefit and to help position Barbados as a highly competitive and productive country.
“The next phase of our development is for you to achieve when we pass that baton on to you. Our growth, GDP [gross domestic product], our productivity, industry and pride is going to depend on your ability to achieve excellence and that is one value that we must inculcate for that next phase of our development . . . one of the things we do need is excellence,” she insisted.
This year the TVET Council has partnered with the Barbados Manufacturers Association (BMA) to provide an opportunity for participants to participate in the annual Barbados Manufacturers Exhibition (BMEX), scheduled for later this year.
Twenty WorldSkills competitors will participate in four categories – hairdressing, automotive technology, garment making and culinary arts – and the organizers hope that at least two of the national gold medallists will compete in the World Skills Americas for the regional competition later this year.
BMA Executive Director Bobbi McKay told the finalists her organization was determined to expose alternate skills that presented viable career options.
“While there is and will always be room for traditional career paths, it would seem that Barbados is finally becoming more and more receptive to embracing the arts and vocational skills and many of the paths that were previously evaded because they did not fit into the traditional career models,” McKay said.
Meantime, Executive Director of the TVET Council Henderson Eastmond said the TVET Council would ensure the island’s “strategic long term involvement” with the world skills brand in order to help create opportunities for Barbadians.
As a result, he said the statutory organization had undertaken a number of activities aimed at strengthening the island’s ability to participate in the regional and international competitions.
He said the council was attempting to secure internships, work attachments and scholarships for the medallists in this year’s competition. (MM)