The Barbados Scholarship may in future be awarded for excellence in technical and vocational studies, possibly ending 140 years of a strict academic focus for the taxpayer-funded award, Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw has indicated.
She told journalists at the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Council’s head office: “We are presently discussing how we can enhance the training we already offer in these disciplines, and the TVET Council will play a role in this process.
“Right now we only offer Levels one and two of the Caribbean Vocational Qualifications, but ideally we should be offering Levels three and four as well.
“However, we will have to make improvements with regard to the training of instructors, as well as purchasing the more specialised equipment these courses will need for the more advanced levels, and this is a costly process.”
She added: “While we tend to focus heavily on academics, we recognise that technical and vocational subjects are just as important, and indeed, these skills will help Barbados as we continue to transform our economy.
“Our secondary schools are focusing on these subjects more than before, and given the ability of these students to compete at the international level through events like World Skills, the ministry will consider offering scholarships to students in these disciplines as well.”
Bradshaw’s comments came as a contingent prepares to leave for Kazan in Russia to represent Barbados in the World Skills International Competition.
Executive Director of the TVET Council Henderson Eastmond said: “This competition, which is considered the ‘Global Skill Olympics’, will feature 1,367 competitors from all over the world showcasing their talents in 56 technical and vocational disciplines.
“Our team is taking part in six disciplines, namely Car Painting, Cooking, Restaurant Service, Graphic Design Technology, Fashion Technology, and Hairdressing.”
At the last two World Skills Americas events, Barbados won Silver and Bronze Medals.
The six participants chosen to go to Russia won Gold at World Skills Barbados held last year. To qualify they had to score 75 per more in the national competition, and at least 85 percent in the “soft skills” element of the contest, which dealt with communication, etiquette and other personal development skills.
Eastmond added: “We have recognised from attending the international contest that the judges are very strict, and they do not only look at the technical skills, but they also consider how the students use the equipment and how they maintain their workstations.”
Barbados became an associate member of World Skills International in 2011, and joined the organisation as full members in 2017.
The team heading to Kazan includes Zaria Archer (Hairdressing); Danny Mayers (Restaurant Service); Kristina Patrick (Graphic Design Technology); Peabo Sampson (Fashion Technology); Terrique Ward (Car Painting) and Shae White (Cooking).
They are to be accompanied by experts in their disciplines including Negas Alleyne-Browne of Automotive Art (Car Painting); Chef Peter Edey (Cooking); Arlette Knight-Olton (Hairdressing); Shelly Mayers (Graphic Design Technology); Roderick Prescod (Restaurant Service) and Joy Prime (Fashion Technology).
TVET Council officials Eastmond, Dario Walcott, Rosline Cumberbatch, Sarah Gilkes-Daniel and Dr. Wayne Charles-Soverall are also part of the delegation.