A recent survey has found that Barbados is experiencing a shortage of technical and vocational skills, Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo has revealed.
Dr Byer-Suckoo did not disclose when the survey was conducted, who commissioned it, the reason for it, the size of the sample or who was surveyed.
However, she said in an address today at the 50 and Beyond Assessment and Exhibition showcase at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) that demand for such skills here far outweighed supply.
“Research has shown that there is a shortage of technical vocational skills in Barbados. Now, this seems to suggest that in spite of economic circumstances, and this is recent research, that there is actually a demand for particular skills on the island that we are not yet meeting. And we must prepare our workers to supply these skills,” Dr Byer-Suckoo said.
At the same time, the minister sought to dismiss suggestions that Barbadians lack creativity and innovation, insisting it was a lie that other Caribbean nationals were more creative.
“For too long I have heard people say, ‘Jamaicans are creative and Trinidadians are innovative and they do this and they do that’. We have allowed ourselves, not all of us, as a society, to buy in to this belief, this notion that we are not as creative. We believe this lie. We now have the task of uprooting that.
“So we are creative and it is time that we stop believing that lie. It is time that we stand tall in the knowledge that Barbadians are creative, are innovative; and go out there and take our thoughts and turn them into services and products and take those to the world. That is what we need, that is what our economy needs, that is how we will compete in the international marketplace,” Dr Byer-Suckoo stressed.
The showcase followed the graduation of the first group of 36 students from a range of National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)/Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) garment manufacturing courses through a partnership between the SJPP and AC’s Manufacturing, with assistance from the Competency Based Training Fund, the TVET Council and the Inter American Development Bank.
The AC’s Manufacturing and SJPP partnership has resulted in three new programmes – manufacturing sewn products level II, apparel manufacturing technology level 3 and textile material design level 3 – being added to the SJPP NVQ/CVQ curriculum.