Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean urged members of the Accounting Students Association to learn a foreign language. (S. Patel)

Accounting students enrolled at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, have been encouraged to develop their foreign language skills and to explore opportunities for work across the Caribbean and outside the region.

This was emphasised by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, as she addressed the launch of the Accounting Students’ Association’s week of activities, at The Mount Restaurant, UWI, Cave Hill, last Monday.

Senator McClean stated that with the advent of free movement of people, and the international context of business, the new global reality called for professionals to develop their language skills.??

"We are operating within the context of CARICOM and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).?? One of the key objectives of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas is the free movement of people and capital.?? Certainly as a professional accountant, looking to establish yourself and build a career, this infers that you are no longer confined to your country of birth," the Foreign Affairs Minister stressed.

Stating that University graduates were among the first categories of persons permitted to move freely among member states, she remarked, "I am saying this to Barbadians because we tend to want to stay home, but accounting firms could be regional and international, some have locations across hemispheres, so I am urging you to look at that as an opportunity."

Emphasising that the students examine "differential growth and the development of economies of the region", she illustrated that some Caribbean countries were taking advantage of changes in the global demand for commodities.?? Pointing to Suriname as an example, she noted that the Dutch-speaking CARICOM country was "doing very well because of the nature of its economy and because of the size of the country.

"We are talking about a country that is approximately 63,000 square miles with a population of half million people.?? Now contrast that with Barbados, which is 166 square miles and has a population of approximately 280,000.?? This demonstrates the importance of learning a foreign language," she stressed.??

She added that some Latin American businesses found it difficult to hire persons from the English-speaking Caribbean, due to a general lack of knowledge of Spanish.??

The Foreign Affairs Minister maintained that while young accountants look outside of Barbados and the Caribbean for career opportunities, knowledge of a foreign language was seen as a marketable asset.?? Stating that information technology made it possible for services to be offered around the world, she observed that the client and the accountant could reside and operate in two different countries.??

Suggesting that the students consider learning international languages such as Mandarin Chinese, Minister McClean explained that with China, Brazil and India expected to emerge as leading world economies, there was a greater need for accountants to operate and communicate at ??international levels.


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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