Barbadians have been advised to enhance their academic qualifications in order to remain competitive in the business arena if Barbados is to respond to the threats posed by globalisation and trade liberalisation.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce, Ernesta Drakes, made these remarks on behalf of Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick.?? She was speaking at the Barbados Institute of Management and Productivity’s (BIMAP) graduation ceremony at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last Saturday.

While acknowledging that Barbados had already embraced market-oriented development strategies that involved the liberalisation of the domestic market, she said: "The most practical approach for improving competition is to equip our citizens with the tools for success in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy."??

In highlighting the link between the use of science and technology and an intellectually-oriented environment, Ms. Drakes identified Information Communications Technology (ICT) as a critical element in the application of education and training systems within such a society.

"The scope of ICT in education is enormous.?? Digital literacy is becoming as important for work, leisure and personal development, as reading and writing.?? Moreover, the critical use of information technology for work, leisure, learning and communication is under-pinned by basic skills in ICT," Ms. Drakes added.

The Government official also alluded to the restructuring of the National Council for Science and Technology as well as the creation of a National Information Communications Technology Strategic Plan as initiatives aimed at cultivating a culture of science and technology.

Given this situation, Ms. Drakes said tertiary education providers would face increased demands to provide flexible education opportunities for the labour force.?? "I therefore implore you to explore ways of improving learning and widening access to innovations in education and training," she suggested.??

She further stated: "Expanding access to education and training through distance learning programmes such as those currently being offered by BIMAP in collaboration with the University of Surrey is a step in the right direction."

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