Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo. (FP)
The Ministry of Labour will be working more closely with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) as it seeks to tailor its training programmes to more effectively meet the needs of the job market.
Labour Minister Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo gave this commitment to a BHTA delegation led by new chairman, Roseanne Myers, during a courtesy call at the Ministry last Tuesday.
Dr. Byer Suckoo said that the Labour Ministry was very focused on demand-driven education and so it needed comprehensive information on the employment areas which were in demand.
This would allow training institutions such as the Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB), the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and the Barbados Youth Service to develop the skill sets needed, she maintained.
The BHTA chairman promised the full cooperation of that body, noting that while persons often thought of careers in tourism only in terms of the traditional areas, there were many other areas where skilled workers were needed. As examples, she listed refrigeration, elevator maintenance, sail-making, golf cart operators and diesel engine mechanics.
Dr. Byer Suckoo also made a case for apprenticeships in the tourism industry for young people graduating from the Barbados Community College, the Polytechnic, the BVTB, the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme and the Youth Service. This hands-on experience, she said, was vital to developing the necessary skills.
The BHTA and the Ministry also discussed the need for a data base of labour market information. The Minister said that her Ministry would soon begin the process of establishing a national register of workers in Barbados which would allow them to better respond to immigration requests in respect of work permits. She noted that most work permit requests came from the construction and tourism industries.
Mrs. Myers said that her organisation would also welcome this information, since its own preliminary investigations suggested that there were “only a handful” of people with work permits working in the industry.
The BHTA also updated Minister Byer Suckoo on its negotiations with the trade union representing the tourism sector, the challenges it is experiencing in accessing legislated incentives for the sector and plans related to the institutional strengthening of the body.