Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan. (FP)

Some of Government’s initiatives to combat the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were yesterday shared with the rest of the region and beyond as the island participated in a virtual graduation of all Caribbean students who successfully completed courses in the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative.

Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, while acknowledging that this initiative would “definitely uplift our people and allow them to return to the working environment better equipped and ultimately more productive”, outlined to Commonwealth representatives and his regional counterparts that, like most in the region, Barbados too had taken measures to provide a level of social protection for its people.

He noted that payments of BDS $108.6 million were paid through the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to 31,000 claimants for unemployment benefits, for the period March 23 to September 18, 2020.

Mr. Jordan continued: “With our unemployment rate in the high 30 per cent, the Government, through its recent Throne Speech, will shortly be implementing two initiatives which will specifically provide assistance to currently unemployed persons.

“They include a one-year BDS $40 million COVID Relief Programme and a BDS $300 million stimulus package to be known as the Barbados Employment and Sustainable Transformation (BEST) Programme and these programmes are to address this current situation in our country. …These initiatives are examples of how Barbados has creatively sought to handle the impact of this pandemic, and to be in position to rebuild our economy and country stronger and better.”

The COL-Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative is being administered here through the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations. It is a response to the losses of jobs and livelihoods due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since mid-May, over 80,000 unemployed citizens of the Commonwealth have joined the programme and are actively acquiring skills to regain employment.

In the Caribbean region, more than 25,000 learners have enrolled in courses; the first cohort of 3,000 learners graduated in the virtual convocation yesterday.

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