Students from eight secondary schools are this week getting familiar with workplace practices, as part of the Barbados Employers Confederation’s (BEC) annual workshop, Securing the Workforce of the Future.
The workshop is being conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Labour. It is a partnership that the BEC’s labour management adviser Kara Sealy said would continue to add value to the lives of young students who are approaching “that critical stage where they will make considerations of how their career choices will impact not only themselves and those around them but, by extension, the wider society”.
Sealy told this morning’s opening at UN House in Christ Church that unemployment rates continue to be of concern, with statistics for the second quarter of 2015 reflecting a rate of 11.9 per cent.
“This may indeed be a decrease from that of 2013, and may prove to be relatively low in comparison to our Caribbean counterparts. However, the aim is not to relive the era of the early 1990s. The BEC is therefore seeking to change the behaviours of these students to foster the transition out of the ‘at risk’ category, thereby limiting the possibility of higher unemployment rates,” she said.
Sealy also noted that in June 2012, at its 101st International Labour Conference, the ILO discussed and adopted a resolution calling for immediate targeted and renewed action to tackle the youth employment crisis. The objectives of this resolution encompassed the fostering of growth and job creation to tackle the social consequences of the crisis.
Sealy said the Securing the Workforce of the Future workshop would provide the necessary soft skills and also cover integral aspects such as HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases, both of which are major concerns in Barbados.
“For us at the BEC, proactive solutions not only cover the aptitude for work but the ability to work. It is important that young future employees understand the importance of healthy living [and] also learn to respect others and their peculiar circumstances.
“This year’s workshop seeks to build on that mission and ensure by its completion, that those for whom the messages and advice are intended leave with a greater sense of comfort and understanding and are better equipped to add genuine value in whatever capacity they hold when natural progression to the workforce is achieved,” she said.
Sealy said five of the participating students from last year’s workshop were awarded internships at four private sector companies, and she is hoping that similar opportunities would be available to this year’s participants.
Students from Springer Memorial
Secondary School, The St Michael School, Princess Margaret Secondary School, Parkinson Memorial Secondary School, St George Secondary School, the Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School, Grantley Adams Memorial Secondary School and Deighton Griffith Secondary School are attending the three-day exercise.