One government Minister has called for this nation???s youth to not just be consumers, but innovators.

Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, threw out this challenge yesterday, during the press briefing to launch the Season of Emancipation.

Highlighting the ongoing SIRIUS (Social Identity Renewal and Integrated Upliftment Strategy) programme as key to this endeavour, the Culture Minister noted that the initiative, which is led by the Commission for Pan African Affairs, focuses on bringing innovation to the fore.

He explained that the programme was part of the National Youth Policy agenda, which seeks to hone the talents of young people towards self-employment initiatives. Mr. Lashley added that the policy, therefore, represented a paradigm shift in terms of taking the economy in a new direction as part of the on-going restructuring exercise.

???We recognise that we have to provide innovative solutions for young people that are actually led by them and this initiative represents one of those??? We need to move it across Barbados??? We want to get more young people believing that they can actually create things,??? Minister Lashley said, adding that the project was part of efforts to ???plant the seeds??? that would create innovators and not just consumers.

???We have been too much a consuming nation. We need now to forge ahead and use our individual and collective talents in doing things we???ve never done before?????? Mr. Lashley pointed out, noting that development of technology was high on the priority list for both SIRIUS and the nation as a whole.

With various ventures and businesses expected to emerge from the SIRIUS project, Minister Lashley added that it was designed to to focus on innovation and to find home-grown solutions.??He noted that it would also create products and services that were ready for export and lead to the kind of direct foreign inflows that Barbados needed.

Director of the Commission for Pan African Affairs, Dr. Derek Murray, said that SIRIUS, which was launched five months ago, was proving to be a ???hotbed of ideas???. He disclosed that, among other things, the strategy would see young people involved in a broad tourism project called Moments In Time, led by David Weekes.

???He has young people who are working on computer aided design to develop 3D printing and 3D printed products. We???re working very closely with BIDC to have that project piloted and we???re interested in creating everything from small monuments??? to developing what is a proprietary initiative, where we look at the facades throughout Bridgetown and remake them while preserving the buildings, as a temporary solution to those buildings that are at the risk for running to ruin,??? he explained.

One aspect of SIRIUS, which Dr. Murray outlined as crucial, was project and grant proposal training which has been taking place for the past four months.??He said: ???We thought it was perhaps the key initiative to start with because we are aware millions of dollars are available for grant funding??? internationally and locally as well, as the Cultural Industries Bill comes on stream??? We found people have ideas. The challenge is to put those ideas in writing in a coherent way and to develop a business plan around them.???

The Pinelands Creative Workshop has been contracted as an affiliate to SIRIUS, in an effort to take the programme into various communities across the island. To this end, Dr. Murray stated that the ministry was seeking to establish at least three innovation centres ??? one each in the north, south and The City ??? with the Old Spirit Bond under consideration for the Bridgetown location.

Acknowledging that meeting the goals of SIRIUS had been challenging, he noted that the private sector and other interested parties are keen to support the youth initiative.??The SIRIUS project was launched in October 2013.

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