The Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI) is no longer seen as a “second chance” institution but one which Government will be looking to this year, and beyond, to help drive the economy.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Senator Dr. Romel Springer, made this assertion this morning at the launch of the SJPI’s 50th anniversary celebrations at its Wildey, St. Michael campus.
He told the audience, which included members of the Board of Management, current and past staff, students and principals that the SJPI, as the premier institute which provides technical and vocational training on the island, would be expected to guide Government as it conducts its re-training and re-tooling exercise for retrenched public sector workers.
“Right now, the country is going through a transition and we are talking everyday about re-training and re-tooling. We are also re-imagining where we can take this country and we have to look to you at the SJPI for guidance and instruction. So, your role is going to become more critical in 2019 than it would have been in previous years because we are going to look to you to assist us in retraining our people, not only in the necessary soft skills but the mindset has to change. …We have to embrace those necessary best practices, seek them out wherever they are and bring them here to this institution so that Barbadians can benefit,” the Senator emphasized.
The Parliamentary Secretary added that technology was driving the labour force, which made institutions like the SJPI even more important. He explained that these institutions were preparing students for the “jobs of the future” by giving them crucial technical skills.
“In [the Ministry of] Education we often talk about preparing students for jobs which have not yet been imagined. You are giving them the necessary skills to plug-in and move with the times. In the past, these institutions were seen as ‘second chance’ institutions. If you didn’t do well in secondary school perhaps you could come to the Polytechnic or Skills Training and learn a skill and perhaps seek out a living. But those days are long gone.
“Now you guys are at the forefront. We are looking to you; labour is looking to you; academics like myself are looking to you now because you are driving the technology, you are driving the skill sets. The type of persons that you are producing here are the ones who are driving the economy. If we are to advance into the 21st century, these type of persons that we need are coming out of this institution,” he affirmed.
Dr. Springer added that the SJPI’s reputation for providing first-class instruction in various technical disciplines was known not only in Barbados but throughout the Caribbean due to the calibre of “outstanding technicians and craftsmen” that it produced.
He pledged the Ministry’s support to providing the necessary training for instructors at the SJPI in an effort to increase the quality of teaching there.