Barbados??? Ambassador to CARICOM, Robert Morris, is of the view that however this nation evolves, it will be based on the efforts and contribution of those who are employed.
The Ambassador was at the time addressing fourth and fifth form students who attended the 2015 edition of EduNation ??? one of the activities to mark Education Month ??? and which was held in Queen???s Park on October 20.
Speaking on the theme: Education and Economic Opportunities in CARICOM: Barbados on the Eve of Its Fiftieth Year of Independence, Mr. Morris told students and their teachers it was important first to recognise they were in an era of change, and that they had to understand change and use education to aid the process.
As he provided glimpses of what was contained in the CARICOM???s Strategic Plan 2015-2019, Mr. Morris said it captured all the criticisms made about CARICOM throughout the years, including those by politicians.
He noted the first priority in CARICOM was economic resilience and said: ???We want to develop a resilient economic structure because we are not resilient now; we are subject to every storm, every flood; we are subject to anything that happens in the world economy.???
Stressing that we had to build this resilience among ourselves, the Ambassador added: ???The first thing [we have to address] is economic resilience; one of the things we are saying is that we have to get rid of that debt burden. We have to take that debt from around your necks because if my generation doesn???t pay it, you have to pay it and your generations. So we are looking at reducing that debt burden.???
Pointing out that Barbados and the region had to change their whole structure of operating, the former trade unionist said things we were accustomed to could no longer obtain. ???And don???t be emotional about this. If there was a time when we could pay every cent in terms of health and education for everybody, that time is not now. So we have to adjust to change,??? he stressed.
He maintained that people needed to be pragmatic, since countries the world over were undergoing similar problems and the economic situation was not special to Barbados or the region.
Another aspect of change he referred to was Accelerating Implementation and Use of the Caricom Single Market and Economy. Acknowledging that free movement of labour was key to this, the union stalwart also pointed out that free movement of capital was paramount, especially where it related to how people could use credit cards, travel from one country to another, find work, make money and repatriate such with the knowledge that their national insurance benefits in a country would be protected.
The movement of goods was also considered important but what Mr. Morris conveyed strongly to his young audience was the realisation that however the region evolved, it was going to be as a result of ???employed people???.
He exclaimed: ???We can talk as much as we like about entrepreneurship and so on but they are going to be the minority. Our societies are going to be societies where people are going to be employed and that is why we are talking about getting that CARICOM skilled certificate where you are moving as an employee???
???You are moving ???to work??? on a contract of service. But in order to get that accreditation to make sure you can move, make sure you get the certification that is required ??? CVQ [Caribbean Vocational Qualification], NVQ [National Vocational Qualification]. If you are talking about your certificate at the level of Community College, Polytechnic, or University of the West Indies, that is a vast number of people that are able to move.???
While Mr. Morris revealed that what was required was statistics on the number of jobs to be filled across the region, he lamented that such information was taking too long to reach the CARICOM Secretariat.
Calling it a result of the region being short on statisticians and statistical services, Barbados??? Ambassador to CARICOM intimated these were opportunities and stressed there would be several strata of jobs to look forward to. ???When we are at a stage where you can sit down in Barbados and see all of the jobs advertised in the region, then you would be in a better position to plan where you would want to go,??? he remarked.
This notwithstanding, the future job seekers were urged to take advantage of available opportunities; view every profession as offering employment; and not shy away from any area of employment, including the construction industry, which was said to be in a boom and proving once more to be lucrative.