Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo (FP)????

Graduates of the Barbados Vocational Training Board’s (BVTB) skills training programmes have been advised that now is an opportune time to explore possibilities for entrepreneurship and self-employment.

This is the view of new Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who acknowledged that these were very difficult economic times.?? However, she believes that entrepreneurship was one way to meet these challenges.

Speaking at the BVTB’s 30th anniversary graduation ceremony at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday evening, Dr. Byer Suckoo lamented that some persons did not value technical and vocational training, but she stressed that its opportunities were limitless.

"The beauty of technical and vocational training is that young people can graduate not only as job seekers but also become self-employed persons who can employ and train others…the advantages that flow from technical and vocational education and training cannot be over-emphasised. Persons with skills such as auto mechanics, electrical and building and construction need not depend on the state for employment, as there are many self-employment opportunities in these areas of specialisation," she observed.

The Labour Minister also lauded the Board for seeking to empower its students with skills which help them to become financially viable and support not only themselves, but their families.

She also encouraged the BVTB to conduct a market assessment so it could better meet the needs of its students, as well as develop tracer systems to gauge how well its programmes were functioning.

Acting Director of Training at the BVTB, Merna Jordan, revealed that in the past year her department had trained some 1,400 persons in various skills and trades.

She added that as part of the process of keeping the BVTB relevant to the needs of the productive sectors and its students, the Board would expand its range of programmes, shortly.

These include Green House Technology, Care of the Elderly, Cosmetology, Auto Electrician, Auto Refinishing, Video and Sound Editing and Generator Technician, among others.

In addition, Ms. Jordan said a new autotronics lab would be opened within the next month to assist with training in that area.

The Acting Director also pointed out that the Barbados Vocational Training Board was not only concerned about the technical aspects of training but was interested in developing the social skills of its trainees.

"We have heard complaints from some employers about the life development skills of some of the workers and to redress this, we have introduced a life skills and employability module in our programmes…we have experienced trainers teaching topics such as work ethics, balancing work and family, team building, money management, productivity and leadership and personal excellence and development," Ms. Jordan explained.

The graduation ceremony is part of activities for the Board’s 30th anniversary celebrations which got under way earlier this month.

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