A training initiative, made available to the Caribbean as it grapples with the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been hailed by Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan.
The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative, introduced here last month, was yesterday described by the Minister as a great opportunity allowing citizens “to engage in a variety of training courses and to retool and enhance their overall skill set, as they seek to reposition themselves in and for the world of work”.
Addressing a virtual convocation/graduation of all Caribbean students who successfully completed one or more of the courses, the Labour Minister noted the collaboration with COL/Coursera Workforce Recovery Programme had shown how a great relationship, along with a strong desire to provide much needed assistance to member states at this time, could be beneficial to our citizens.
“As we continue to navigate these uncharted waters, we remain cognisant that no one has escaped the onslaught of COVID-19. What commenced as a programme to assist the unemployed was extended to any Barbadian who is seeking to retool or reskill, or who felt unsure about their employment situation,” Mr. Jordan emphasised.
The Minister also expressed pleasure that in spite of what appeared as a period of “gloom and doom” to many, a large number of Barbadians grasped the training opportunity with “both hands” and actively engaged in learning and personal development.”
Referring to statistics, he said as at September 13, the Ministry had referred 6,275 persons, comprising 4,586 women and 1,689 men, and already 4,411of these persons had started the various courses. Stating that he was positive the team at the Ministry and the team from the COL/Coursera Workforce Recovery Programme would continue to work steadfastly to bridge this gap, he stressed the Ministry might have to reach out and provide technical assistance to those who may be encountering challenges in the enrolment process.
Lamenting the big disparity in the numbers between the men and women, which he said had to be addressed, Mr. Jordan stated: “With courses available in areas such as Entrepreneurship, Game Design and Animation, areas often seen as attractive pursuits for men, it is very disappointing that the numbers of men are not higher. My Ministry therefore acknowledges that we have to adopt a more targeted approach to men for future training interventions.”
It was, however, noted that the registration process revealed that over 75 per cent of registrants expressed a desire to become self-employed, while the remaining 25 per cent were seeking better employment opportunities, whether locally or abroad.
The online convocation saw 883 Barbadians among those graduating. Mr. Jordan made special mention of two of the island’s most prolific course participants, namely Robyn Williams, who completed 11 courses, and Beaumont Hackett who followed with nine. The Labour Minister urged all others to continue going the distance as better and greater opportunities lay ahead.