One of Barbados’ noted economists believes that the island’s development model is in need of an upgrade.
In fact, Professor Avinash Persaud is of the view that residents should be taught to develop high-value skills and become owners of enterprises instead of just workers.
“Today our development model requires an update. Nothing lasts. We have learned that formal schooling and professional education give us a massive step up, takes us a long way, but does not take us all the way,” said Persaud.
“Thriving is no longer about moving on from hard labour. It is about freedom of all our people to pursue the life they wish to lead. What we have learned over these past 30 years is that high-value professional skills are critical, are necessary but are not sufficient. Ownership also matters,” he said.
Pointing out that ownership has become even more concentrated around the world, especially in the technology space, Persaud said the challenge now was for Barbadians to become owners and not mere workers.
“Imagine too, a robot of the not too distant future that can do everything you can do. If you own that robot, life is sweet. . . The problem arises, when someone else owns your robot, the one that can do everything you can do. Pop goes your income. Technology is not your enemy: ownership is,” he said.
He said: “The challenge of the future is not an unlimited supply of unskilled workers, but masses of skilled robots owned by a handful of people.”
He put forward the idea recently as he addressed the Errol and Nita Barrow Educational Trust’s Gala Fundraising Dinner at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The economic advisor said it was critical that people looked beyond developing traditional skills and a profession.
“To thrive then, we need our people to have the knowledge that not only generates an income, but owns their working lives in some way; owns their own businesses in others,” he said.
“That is why in the third decade of the 21st century, 100 years after his birth [former Prime Minister Errol Barrow], the task we have set ourselves at the Trust, is supporting the development of skills that go beyond the traditional professions and truly empower the kind of knowledge that might help a chef become a restaurant owner, a bartender become a bar owner, a grower become farmer, a nurse become owner of an international company of nurses, an architect, accountant or lawyer become a global practice manager or owner,” he explained. [email protected]