Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley is happy with the response by Barbadians to the training opportunities offered by the National Transformation Initiative (NTI) and is hoping that the numbers would be doubled by next year.
Ms. Mottley said she would like to see 50,000 Barbadians registering for local and international courses on the Coursera platform next year, as she reiterated the need for them to become global citizens through continuous education.
She was speaking at the NTI Coursera Phase Two launch and Road Show at the Valley Resource Centre, St. George, on Thursday.
The Prime Minister proffered the view that the NTI was not only about providing training initiatives but transforming the lives of individuals. She shared statistics on some of the local courses pursued by Barbadians so far.
Ms. Mottley said last year several students registered to pursue online courses. She revealed that there were 8,138 students enrolled in Online Safety; 5,385 pursuing studies in Core Skills; Entrepreneurship, 5,956, and Occupational Health and Safety, 6,263.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said 14,577 Barbadians were enrolled in the Citizenship course, while 4,950 pursued Introduction to Coding with JAVA; Beginners Sign Language, 5,220, and Personal Financial Management, 382.
Ms. Mottley said she expected the number of persons pursuing Personal Financial Management to increase, given Government’s emphasis on financial literacy as part of its Trust Loans programme, adding that she also wants to see Citizenship taught in schools.
“I expect that the Citizenship module must be ready for September at both primary and secondary level…. I am asking the NTI to enter into discussions with all of our tertiary institutions, public and private, to ensure that the Citizenship module becomes a base course, irrespective of whatever else a student is doing,” Ms. Mottley insisted.
The Prime Minister continued: “I am not going to tell you that the Prime Minister is mandating it. But I’m going to tell you that the Minister of Finance is not going to pay for anybody’s fees, so I hope that we understand, and that we are all on the same page.”
Ms. Mottley revealed that she too had done the Citizenship course and also had plans to refresh her foreign language skills, to better represent the island’s interest on the international stage.
Meanwhile, Director of the NTI, Dr. Allyson Leacock, expressed her deep appreciation to the thousands of Barbadians who had already signed up for the many courses on offer.
For those engaged in the Construction Gateway Training, the NTI Director said those individuals can upscale their training by taking the Construction Management Course offered by Columbia University.
She said the NTI’s road show would cover the entire island as it seeks to empower more Barbadians to enhance their skills.
Coursera’s Director of International Public Sector Practice, Matt Klein, lauded Prime Minister Mottley for the “challenge she laid out to her public sector and the small but mighty team at the NTI” to retool the Barbadian workforce to make it globally fit for purpose.
“Over the past week, we have had the pleasure of meeting with the Ministries of Education, Labour, Youth and Sport, Innovation and Smart Technology, Tourism, Agriculture, Foreign Trade and Business Development, People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Environment and Beautification, Foreign Affairs, and the Public Service; the Barbados Community College and the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry representing companies across the country.
“Again and again, we have heard the same refrain and the excitement [expressed] about the impact of the NTI programme because these are exactly the skills needed in every company, agency and citizen,” he stated.
The course offerings will be expanded in Phase Two to include agriculture, climate change, waste management and media studies.