Minister of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick

The Ministry of Economic Affairs will be undertaking a comprehensive review of its operating structures shortly. The exercise is designed to identify the skills needed to improve the efficiency of some sectors and boost productivity. 

This was disclosed by Minister of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, last Friday, after signing a grant agreement between Government and the European Commission for Euro $9.8 million. The event took place in the Ministry’s conference room, Reef Road, St. Michael. 

The document, initialed by Dr. Estwick, and head of the European Commission Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ambassador Valeriano Diaz, would pave the way for Barbados to receive the funds under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) arrangement for the period 2008-2013.

Under this arrangement, 85 percent of the monies allocated under the EDF would go towards enhancing the flexibility and competitiveness of the domestic labour force.  A further Euro $0.2 million has been set aside for emergencies.

In addition, emphasis would also be placed on the development of a regionally coherent national certification and accreditation system; establishment of a sustainable financing training mechanism with contributions from government, employers and trainers; enhancement and implementation of the present skills training and productivity programmes; and the improvement of tertiary level education, including the upgrading of teachers’ skills in identified areas.

The Minister gave the undertaking to strategise with the technocrats in his Ministry to effect this. “We intend to sit down and strategise very early to determine exactly which skills set we want to prioritise as our primary skills set.  There are a number of areas identified as potential zones of bottlenecks with respect to production in Barbados, and there are several departments that we may need to look at …that we may need to upgrade in terms of not only human resource capacity, but in terms of other elements of capacity building,” he emphasised.

Regarding the productive sectors, Dr. Estwick said that agriculture and manufacturing had been lagging for sometime, and he called for a re-assessment of their contribution to the island’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“We need to determine if they need to be re-tooled; we also need to determine whether or not both sectors are too fragmented; we also need to identify what additional expertise was needed; and we also need to examine how they were being managed.  Hence, a rethink of the entire programmes was necessary and believe that the European Development Fund will assist us in achieving these particular objectives,” he noted.

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