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Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart??

Unemployed persons can now access a $10 million Employment Training Fund which is being operated by the National Insurance Department.

This was announced yesterday by Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he delivered the feature address at the eighth Biennial Delegates’ Conference of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados.?? It was held at Solidarity House, under the theme "Energising the Social Partnership".

Mr. Stuart explained that the Fund would essentially seek to upgrade the skills-sets of unemployment benefit registrants, who would be attached to training institutions and who would have access to the guidance and counselling services offered by the National Employment Bureau.

"Through this initiative, participants will be re-trained in a variety of disciplines, in order to enhance their level of competitiveness in the labour market," he added. These disciplines include auto mechanics, bobcat operation, garment making, masonry, animal husbandry, landscaping and horticulture, electrical wiring and upholstery.

The Acting Prime Minister also noted that continuing efforts were being made to identify new employment opportunities for Barbadians in overseas labour markets, with cruise tourism being an area of special focus.??

"We are currently involved in negotiations with two cruise lines to employ Barbadians and we are optimistic that these negotiations will soon result in an increased number of jobs in that area," Mr. Stuart stated.

Meanwhile, in relation to the social partnership, he conceded that while it had met with "commendable success at the national level", one of the challenges remaining was how to replicate this success at the enterprise level.??????????

"We must remain conscious of the fact that that relationship is an important factor in the drive to improve and increase productivity in the workplace. I believe, therefore, that the social partnership needs to work on developing and institutionalising a culture that will become a catalyst for forging strong partnerships between managers and employees at the level of individual enterprises," the Acting Prime Minister contended.

He stressed that to achieve this objective there must be a commitment to several factors, including encouraging employees to participate in the decision-making processes of the enterprises whose decisions would affect their working lives.?? The Acting Prime Minister further maintained that the necessary human resources should be available and that there was adequate training at all levels to meet the goals and objectives of the organisation.

Mr. Stuart also made reference to the decent work agenda, which he said was located at the core of government’s plans for the future of labour in Barbados. He pointed out that the promotion of decent work could help to ensure increased participation of the poor and socially excluded in the fruits of economic growth; the strengthening of democracy; and the overcoming of poverty, inequality and exclusion.

"On this very important issue, therefore, the government will continue to encourage dialogue among the partners, as decent work is key to the development of its labour and employment policies.??

"Social dialogue has time and time again, proven to be an excellent instrument to achieve consensus on important policies.?? We aspire towards a society that has the capacity and flexibility to respond to the diverse needs and requirements of its members, and we can reach this goal only if meaningful partnership exists in Barbados," Mr. Stuart observed.

A number of persons were awarded at the opening of the conference for their contribution to the trade union movement, including Pauline Lady Walcott, who received The General Secretary Award and Robert "Bobby" Morris, who was the recipient of the Roy Trotman Award.??gapplewhaite@barbados.gov.bb

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