Barbados’ largest tertiary institution is answering the call for students to be equipped with the tools necessary to become businesses owners as more government retrenchment looms.
The University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill campus is in the process of rolling out a number of programmes to help undergraduate, postgraduate and lifelong learners with the development of their own enterprises after graduation.
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the institution, Professor Eudine Barriteau revealed this during the official signing of a memorandum of understanding today between UWI and LUMIN Consulting – an initiative which will assist business startups through online, face-to-face and blended short courses and certificate programmes.
Baritteau also disclosed that the UWI has committed itself to developing the entrepreneurial skills of Barbadians, particularly victims of government’s on-going retrenchment exercise under the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme. This assistance came through the Student Entrepreneurial Empowerment Development (SEED) initiative.
“SEED responded to the national layoffs with an Entrepreneurs’ Clinic held during the Campus Research Week and Open Day. The clinic was well subscribed, and some of the persons counselled have joined the SEED programme this year. Plans are in train to stage additional clinics across the island this year,” she said.
Professor Barriteau further disclosed that the center for professional development and lifelong learning would be rolling out three courses to help “unlock the potential of Caribbean Entrepreneurs . . . by providing opportunities to enhance their skills or learn new ones.”
Among the courses identified for delivery in the near future include The Lean Startup for the Caribbean Entrepreneur, Investor Readiness for Caribbean Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurial Finance.
“Together, these account for the most immediate needs of a new business owner who is ready to take his or her product or service to the market,” she said, adding that “While much uncertainty looms in this economic climate, there is still a great opportunity for growth.”
Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland endorsed the move, noting that the region’s economic development was heavily reliant on the promotion of entrepreneurship.
“We must pursue this type of training as a proactive and deliberate response to the current economic crisis in which this country has found itself, thus providing opportunity for the disenfranchised worker to reset his or her effort to pursue their dream,” he said.
Sutherland was extremely vocal about the need for education, which positioned ordinary citizens to be business owners as opposed to just employees.
“Entrepreneurial education generally puts emphasis on imagination, creativity and risk acceptance in business, unlike the traditional educational view where greater emphasis is placed on quantitative techniques, rather than the development of creative skills.
“The goals of entrepreneurial education, among others must therefore be to promote the entrepreneur’s personal knowledge, enhance his or her ability to distinguish business opportunities and to develop his or her core knowledge and skillset capacity in order to create effective and flexible business solutions for our many at-risk small businesses; and there are many,” he added.
Sutherland also stressed the need for the education process to “help the learners to learn how to learn.”
“In understanding that learners need to appreciate by way of observation the reflection of the learning processes, especially since learners must make decisions, it is imperative that they are informed about how to obtain knowledge, how to reconstruct it and how to use this knowledge to make critical decisions for self, for business and more importantly for country.”
Professor Barriteau further revealed that the Cave Hill campus was swiftly adapting to new trends in technology and would be rolling out two new courses in blockchain technology. While the two postgraduate courses are still pending approval from the board of graduate studies, these were on stream to be delivered in the second semester of the 2019/2020 academic year as electives in the Master of Science in Information Technology programme.
“These courses, Introduction to blockchain I and Blockchain Applied will not only take students through the history of blockchain but will also focus on its applicability and the steps toward building their own applications,” she said.
Barriteau added that the campus was swiftly improving its status as a smart campus.
“Our smart campus app has already revolutionized the way how we communicate with staff and students. By the end of the student registration period last year, over 40% of the students enrolled were actively using the app.
“So as you can see ladies and gentlemen, the University is at the vanguard of innovation in the region. We are therefore pleased to assist in unlocking the potential of Caribbean entrepreneurs,” she said.