Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Edmund Hinkson wants teaching of soft skills introduced into the school curriculum and is suggesting the establishment of a mandatory youth service across Barbados.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) shadow minister for education made the calls on Saturday at the launch of a training programme designed to sharpen the life skills of young men in his St James North constituency.
The programme, being run at the Sion Hill Community Centre over six weekends, is a collaborative effort of Hinkson’s non-profit organization, Clarkson Foundation, and the National Initiative of Service Excellence.
Noting that Barbados’ education system focuses on academics, technical and vocational skills, he said “I certainly believe that our educational system does not do as well as it should to train our young people in the soft skills of life.
“Skills that will equip you for the world of work, the world of life; how to deal with persons in personal relationships, how to relate to your boss on the job, your fellow employees.”
The BLP MP pointed out that soft skills training also tutors young people in preparing job applications and personal presentation for job interviews.
Added to these he said are matters of respect for self and others, punctuality and development of self-confidence.
“I don’t believe that our educational systems cater enough or train us enough for these kinds of characteristics that are so important in life,” he said.
Hinkson added, “the time has come for our policymakers to look at some kind of mandatory youth service for young people”.
He said such compulsory programmes are needed to bring back among school children and school leavers a sense of community and a willingness to serve.
“We at some stage had a policy – I don’t think it has been followed through well enough – of voluntary activities in schools,” he said and recalled the years gone by when students had to join school society organizations ranging from the Scouts and Guides, to participating in sports, and becoming involved in junior service organizations such as the Leos and Key Club.
“This is a vital aspect of life, and the expansion of the youth service would be just a continuation of what I am speaking about, volunteerism starting from secondary schools among young people and continuing into adulthood.
“This develops your characteristics, helps to make you a better individual. It prepares you better for the world of work and the wider world of life,” he said. (GA)