Close to 400 fifth and sixth form students drawn from the island’s secondary schools and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic were today exposed to the operations of the island’s international business and financial services sector during a school’s symposium at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The event formed part of International Business Week 2017, and was themed International Business: Enhancing
President of the Barbados International Business Association Marlon Waldron told students the sector contributed almost $1 billion yearly to the local economy, making it vital to the country’s development and ultimate survival.
“This money which comes in the form of US, Canadian, British Pounds and other currencies is what government needs to purchase food, goods and services [hence why] it is very important that we attract foreign exchange to function . . . . you cannot purchase anything outside of Barbados without hard earned foreign currency. [The sector] provides approximately four thousand jobs here in Barbados from general workers to managers. There is an opportunity in the international business sector for everyone,” he underscored.
In her remarks, Senior Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Montege Deane-Bowen underscored the importance of the sector to Barbados, while adding that the ministry was in full support of the symposium and other similar initiatives.
“The Ministry is charged with the responsibility of not only ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, but also providing the framework for a skilled workforce. Hence, one of the Ministry’s strategic priorities is to continue to build a strong foundation for fifth and sixth form students looking to pursue further studies in areas such as International Business, Accounting, Information Communications Technologies and Entrepreneurship.
“Our secondary schools through their sixth form programmes, recognize the need for equipping our students with skills and competencies that are transferable to all areas of business. Consequently, these schools continue to encompass and expand the curriculum business offerings,” she said.
The education official noted that there was now a wide range of business related subjects being by offered the Barbados-based Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) including at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level – Accounting; Animation and Game Design; Digital Media; Economics; Entrepreneurship; Financial Services Studies; Information Technology; Logistics and Supply Chain Operations and Management and Management of Business.
Throughout the day, the students were exposed to presentations on Entrepreneurship, Human Resource Management, Goal Attainment, Emotional Intelligence.
One interesting stop at the symposium was the booth managed by Fortress Fund Managers. The company’s Chief Investment Officer Peter Arender advised the youngsters to start saving early for retirement. He stressed that financial security was a vital part of life which did not happen on its own.
“One of the things that people can do, especially young people is to start saving early and regularly. The formula is to spend a lot less than you earn and invest the rest sensibly and we are in the business of helping people with that. The trick is to control the things that we can control as individuals. That is how much we spend and how much we save . . . how regularly we save and for how long. That is a good message for people of all ages, especially young people,” he said.
International Business Week continues tomorrow with a careers showcase at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, where students looking to enter the international business and financial services sectors will have one-on-one sessions with industry experts and international investors on why they chose Barbados as the base for their operations.