Secondary school students are being challenged to start pursuing career options “for the future”.
That was the advice given at the opening of the two-day 13th National Career Showcase at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, which is expected to be attended by hundreds of third to fifth form students from secondary schools across the island.
Trustee of the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust Phillipa Challis said that many changes were taking place rapidly and she encouraged the students not to focus solely on traditional careers.
“Traditional careers in my day are not necessarily the most stable,” said the trained accountant. “They are not necessarily the most prosperous careers that you guys are going to be looking at in the next 20 or 30 years’ time.”
She encouraged the students to consider pursuing careers in specialized areas across various sectors, adding that a range of skilled labourers would be needed for some industries.
“Don’t all just aspire to be doctors and lawyers. I will tell you we have plenty of those here already. But we need to aspire to be different. There are just so many different career options and alternatives that need exploring. Challenge the norm, challenge your teachers and start thinking outside of the box,” she said.
Challis said the Trust had spent “a great deal” of money helping to develop education in Barbados over the years because education is critical to the development of the nation.
“It is uncertain times out there and, truly, none of us understands where the next jobs are coming from. I don’t think we truly understand where business is going or which industries are still going to be going in 20 years’ time,” she said.
Over 25 student entrepreneurs from more than seven secondary schools joined several seasoned business people in offering a variety of products and services at the showcase, which is organized by the Barbados Association of Guidance Counsellors (BAGC). Art, fashion, cosmetology, catering services, photography and security services are among the 16 career clusters featured at over 150 booths.
Deputy Chief Education Officer with responsibility for schools, Joy Adamson urged the students to develop niche areas that would involve using local items in their businesses.
She also encouraged them to create a niche in needed areas, especially the health sector.
“I am putting the challenge out there for you young people. We need [areas] where our aging population can go throughout the day and interact with other persons, keep their minds active….We are talking about the health alliances, agencies and businesses that are stemming up. Think about these things that you too can do so, that we will target that aging population,” she said.
“We have a very good education system and a very good health system. People are living longer, so these are areas I would want you to consider to move into.”
BAGC president Margaret Grant said she was pleased with the growth of and interest in the programme over the years, adding that before 2013, each school would have had its own career showcase, which was not efficient.
“So, we see it as critical in relation to the career choices and subject choices in schools,” she said.
Grant said she was expecting about 2,500 students at the showcase.
She added that the fact student entrepreneurs were able to professionally showcase their products was an indication that the country was heading in the right direction.
“No longer will children be coming out saying ‘I want to go and look for work’. They are now creating work and as long as we can get the children creating work by using their creative skills, then you know productivity will be the end result,” said Grant. (MM)