Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, presenting the Minister’s Award for Outstanding Performance in the Maritime Operations Course to SJPI student, Aaron Thomas today. (GP)

The Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI) has been challenged to take the lead in transforming the Barbados economy.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, issued this challenge today as he addressed the Minister’s Award Ceremony in recognition of the outstanding performance of SJPI student, Aaron Thomas, in the Maritime Operations course for 2018.

“There is this belief that technical and vocational institutions should be beneath our traditional academic institutions. If we look at what is happening across the world, most of the innovation and the creativity is actually coming out of technical and vocational schools.

“The institutions that are changing the world at this moment in our history are not traditional academic institutions, but actually the technical and vocational institutions. If Barbados wants to do what we think we must do, then it is this institution that must take the lead to be able to transform this country …,” he stated.

The Minister outlined a number of areas in which the SJPI could lead the charge in creating the desired change. Among them is the development of a project to make by-products, such as leather, from fish offal, of which Barbados presently dumps approximately 50 per cent.

Mr. Humphrey also outlined his concerns for renewable energy, which he lamented was still too expensive in many cases for persons to explore its benefits.

He stressed that while renewable energy must be affordable to “poor people”, they must also be given the opportunity to generate revenue from it. “Your task at this institution is to develop mechanisms and ways to allow the average Barbadian to be able to benefit from renewable energy,” the Minister pointed out.

He further noted that the SJPI must be instrumental in developing new technology and practical ways for people to make a living in the fishing industry.

“We have to see past our borders as being limits for Barbadians. We now have to be able to train all these gaps in the world. There are so many people aching for the kind of quality students that Barbados produces, not only in medicine and nursing, but in these technical things. Barbados has to be able to fill the gap. That is your charge,” he told the institution’s management.

The Minister reminded those present that technical and vocational schools were never meant to compete with universities and academic institutions.

He stressed that the Barbadian story was to lead, and that leadership must come from the SJPI through its courses and programmes.

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