Prime Minister, David Thompson

Vocational trades such as plumbing, carpentry and masonry are as critical and often pay as well, or even more, than some of the professions repeatedly promoted by parents over the years.

Prime Minister David Thompson made this observation today, as he delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony of the Barbados Vocational Training Board’s (BVTB), Exhibition and Sale of Finished Goods. The event was held at the C. Lomer Alleyne Training Centre, Sayes Court, Christ Church.

Noting that skilled career occupations required the same level of commitment to education as a college or university degree, Mr. Thompson said that the BVTB had success stories which included people who had advanced in paid employment, as well as those who were successful business owners.

"This success has been achieved not only in the Skills Training Programme, but also in the Apprenticeship Programme. The apprenticeship formula which combines on-the-job training with classroom work is a winning formula, and I encourage the BVTB to expand its Apprenticeship Programme into new occupations and new industries," he observed.

According to the Prime Minister, the Board had an important role to play in giving impetus to innovation and increased competitiveness. "Now, more than ever, Barbados needs to leverage its human resources so that it can be ahead of the game when the recession comes to an end. In fact, investment in education and training will be one of the key determinants of economic prosperity," he opined.

He pointed out that the global economy had largely made extinct the notion of a job for life. "The imperative now is employability for life and the key ingredient is lifelong learning. In my view, lifelong learning is about equipping the workers in our society to meet the needs of the economy and allowing individuals to enrich their personal knowledge.

"Lifelong learning must bring those persons who currently lack basic skills and qualifications, back into a learning environment," Mr. Thompson stated.

He stressed that the integration of the economies in the region was essential, and pointed out that as they became global, the mobility of trainees and workers needed to be facilitated, starting at the national level.

"This will not happen without close cooperation. Member states within CARICOM have adopted a phased approach to the free movement of skills, designating specific categories of wage earners to be accorded this right.

"However, the operation of the Single Market and Economy demands a common system and understanding across the region, of quality assurance issues at all levels of education and training, and portable qualifications, especially in technical vocational education and training," the Prime Minister remarked.

The exhibition, which runs at the C. Lomer Alleyne Training Centre, until Saturday, June 20, includes construction, auto-mechanics, landscaping, cooking, horticulture, auto bodywork and craft.

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