Members of the 2019-2020 class of the Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB) have been encouraged to take advantage of any educational opportunities available to them.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Senator Dr. Romel Springer, shared this advice recently as he delivered the feature address at the BVTB’s virtual graduation ceremony.
Congratulating the graduates on their achievements in spite of the challenges over the past year, Senator Springer urged them to embrace lifelong learning in order to remain “current, competent and relevant in a highly competitive and changing world”.
He also pledged Government’s commitment to enhancing technological and vocational training as part of its educational reformation programme.
“…Life is full of prospects and I can assure that we will provide more opportunities for you to pursue your own learning and development. Our educational reform process aims to have flexible and alternate pathways to higher education and you should grab them as they present themselves.
“The BVTB’s studies which have brought you here today should be seen as the match that lit the fires in your hearts and transform you into lifelong learners who would continue to adapt to a world that is constantly changing,” he added.
Senator Springer also praised the staff of the BVTB for innovative efforts to deliver its educational offerings to students, amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ash fall from the La Soufriere volcano in neighbouring St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as the passage of Hurricane Elsa.
He also highlighted the institution’s objective of offering high level qualifications, noting this would help to “reduce the stigma” people tend to associate with vocational education.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Director of the BVTB, Henderson Thompson, who noted that the past year had been challenging.
He explained that pre-COVID, the 2019-2020 academic year got off to a great start with over 527 persons enrolled in 24 programmes.
However, the disruption to the education sector brought about by the pandemic resulted in the withdrawal of several students.
Mr. Thompson pointed out that in spite of this, the BVTB streamlined its operations with the objective of ensuring students were not disadvantaged.
This included delivering theoretical aspects of some of their programmes during the lockdown period, and extending the semester. In addition, adjustments were made to classes to ensure social distancing, and the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit was enlisted to ensure the safe resumption of in-person instruction.
The BVTB Director also disclosed that the institution would be introducing new “novel and innovative” programmes in the near future.
The 2019-2020 graduating class comprised 218 skills training students, and 400 students who were enrolled in the BVTB’s evening programmes.
Ninety-two students earned Caribbean Vocational Qualifications in Information Communications Technology, Food Preparation and Cookery, Bar Services, Food and Drink Service, Carpentry (Level 2) and Furniture Making (Level 2).