The upcoming Skills For The Future Barbados Conference 2014: Build, Innovate, Transform, slated for Hilton Barbados from January 26 to 28, is designed to bring about better collaboration between industry and training institutions in designing new programmes.

This was emphasized today as the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation officially launched the conference at the Elsie Payne Complex, Constitution Road, St. Michael.

Chairperson of the Planning Committee and Director of the Higher Education Development Unit, Dr. Patrick Rowe, explained that the conference would not ???just be another academic exercise???, but aimed to foster collaboration between industry partners and stakeholders and to determine their needs and how training institutions can respond to these.

While noting that the conference would highlight best practices and models from as far as Panama, Canada and Germany, he said the keynote speaker on the opening day, Sunday January 25, would be the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Community Colleges in Canada, Denise Amyot.

Providing a brief outline of Ms. Amyot???s presentation, Dr. Rowe said it would highlight how community colleges were driving the economic development of Canada over the last 10 years.

???This would be an excellent opportunity for persons who are vested in our technical and vocational education at BCC [Barbados Community College] and SJPP [Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic] to shift paradigms a bit, recognising that community colleges, inclusive of technical education, really drive the middle and the core of the economy. We have to recognise that, if we are going to move ahead aggressively,??? he stressed.

The conference presentations will take the format of town hall meetings, where local discussants, presenters from St. Augustine, Cave Hill and Mona campuses of the University of West Indies, as well as international professionals will share best practices and interact with participants.

On Monday, January 27, some emphasis will be placed on the tourism and hospitality sector with the objective of determining whether Barbados is meeting the demands of that sector. And, according to Dr. Rowe, it would seek also to examine issues such as: ???Has the NISE programme had the impact that we want it to have???? and ???Do we see the sector needing to be re-tooled????

???I think collaborating with external forces, looking at best practices, where models have worked is where this is going to be taking us,??? Dr. Rowe said, adding that the conference was not solely for instructors and professionals, but that the Committee was interested in the participation of industry partners and groups.

Executive Director of the TVET Council, Henderson Eastmond, described the conference as ???trying to transform the educational and training system in Barbados, so that it becomes more efficient and leads to a world class workforce???. He acknowledged that it fitted right into TVET???s agenda of reforming itself and looking to ???become the hub for technical and vocational and education and training in the society – a one stop shop???.

He explained that the Council was currently improving its website to make information more readily available and to put it in a position to gather data on the TVET system, in order to report on the quality of the TVET programme, as well as determine the gaps and ???see how we can make the system better???.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI), Lisa Cummins, in echoing similar sentiments, deemed the conference ???timely and relevant???, and said BCSI believed that it would take ???us in a direction that at this time is essential and lends itself to the agenda of transformation that Barbados has to undergo???.

The January 26 to 28 conference forms part of the Skills For The Future program being undertaken by the Government of Barbados and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is expected to run until 2016.
To ensure a successful three-day conference, the Ministry of Education is partnering with the Caribbean Development Bank; the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development; the Barbados Manufacturers??? Association; and the BCSI.

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