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25 January 2012

Technical and vocational skills valuable in this new economy

Sponsors' Cocktail Reception hosted by the TVET Council and The Crane Hotel on January 7, 2012: Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr. the Hon. Esther Byer Suckoo pictured with the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic's finalists in the Hairdressing category of the WorldSkills Barbados Competition, scheduled to take place March 7-9, 2012.

By Shamkoe Pilé, Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Barbados

Many countries are redeveloping their Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) strategies in an effort to bring about increased economic development, and Barbadians must be made aware that the acquisition of technical and vocational skills are an asset in this new economy.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo made this assertion as she delivered the feature address at the Sponsors' Cocktail Reception for the WorldSkills Barbados Competition 2012, at the beginning of January at the Crane Residential Resort, St. Philip.

Explaining that the WorldSkills Barbados Competition 2012 is a contest which targets students enrolled in technical and vocational education and training institutions, she noted that it was patterned after the WorldSkills International Competition, which is held every two years in one of 58 Member countries/regions.

While the international version is described as a global "skills Olympics" that has participants in over 45 categories, the local competition will see 30 students compete in Culinary Arts, Fashion Technology, Beauty Therapy, Automotive Technology or Hairdressing.

Dr. Byer Suckoo stressed that worldwide technical and vocational skills played a critical role in economic development. "Countries around the world are intensifying their individual and collective efforts and activities to rebound from the still ongoing global economic recession. A major activity in which countries have been engaging on this front has been the development, or redevelopment of national and regional TVET strategies that are in keeping with their economic development needs," she said.

The Labour Minister pointed out that Barbados and CARICOM were doing likewise, with the assistance of the International Labour Organisation and other United Nation organisations.

"Together with the Barbados Human Resource Development Strategy for 2011-2016, the National TVET Strategy will serve as the blueprint for taking Barbados' education and training system to a truly world class level," Dr. Byer Suckoo said, adding that this would facilitate the training, assessment and certification of workers to world-class competency standards.

Noting that the competition would allow young people to demonstrate the best of their vocational skills, she added, "It will create a general awareness in Barbados of the essential contribution that skills and high standards of competence can make to the achievement of economic success and individual fulfilment."

"That for me is a key point Barbadians in all sectors, all spheres of activity, all walks of life, must be made aware of the value of skills in the new economy; they must be taught to ascribe greater significance to the acquisition of skills for themselves, their children, and their employees," the Labour Minister, also congratulating the finalists, who are drawn from the Barbados Vocational Training Board, Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP).

Lauding the sponsors' support of the inaugural WorldSkills Barbados Competition 2012, Dr. Byer Suckoo emphasised that private-public sector partnership was critical for the development of technical and vocational education and training in Barbados.

The WorldSkills Barbados Competition 2012 will take place from March 7 to 9 at the SJPP and the Pommarine Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church. It is organised by the TVET Council.

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