How can technical and vocational education and training (TVET) better meet the needs of the most dynamic industry sectors in Barbados?

This question and others will be answered at an upcoming TVET conference to be hosted by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation from January 26-28, at the Hilton Barbados, Needhams Point, St. Michael.

The 2014 TVET conference is being planned in support of the larger Skills for the Future Initiative of the Government of Barbados and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Under the theme: Skills for the Future: Build, Transform, Innovate, it aims to highlight how TVET may be used to enhance the competitiveness of the workforce and local industry. International best practices and successful models for aligning modern TVET systems with the demands of the labour market and its 21st century skills requirements will be presented.

In addition to the IDB, the Ministry is partnering with a number of organisations to ensure the success of the conference. Support is expected to come from the Caribbean Development Bank; the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development; the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association; and the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries.

Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, is expected to address the event and officially declare it open on Sunday, January 26. The opening ceremony will also include a keynote address from the Minister of Education of Panama, Her Excellency Lucy Molinar Mujer.

Key partners and experts, both local and international, have also been invited to share critical thoughts on technical and vocational education and training. They will examine among other things, the potential success of the Competency Based Training Fund (CBTF), which has recently been established to facilitate funding of employer-driven competency-based training projects.

Several topics are also on the agenda for discussion during the conference. On Monday, January 27, participants will be given an insight into TVET in the Caribbean: Pitfalls, Successes and Challenges by Dr. Disraeli Hutton from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in Jamaica. Dr. Halden Morris, also from University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, will present Strategies for Enhancing the Relationship of the TVET Institutions with Industry.

There will also be a status report on TVET systems in Barbados provided by Professor Andrew Downes, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. The Competency-based Training Fund manager, K. Anderson Lowe, will give an overview of the Fund and explain how it will assist in helping TVET meet the needs of the Barbadian labour market.

The following day, Tuesday, January 28, will feature an international panel of experts who will examine Community Colleges at the Forefront of Economic Development. The underlying thrust will be to examine how modern TVET systems assess quality and effectiveness of their programmes and monitor the employability of graduates. Strategic approaches to blending core soft skills and technical skills into the training curriculum will also be under the microscope.

The Skills for the Future programme is an initiative developed by the Government of Barbados and facilitated through a US $20 million loan from the IDB. Its major aim is to improve the quality and relevance of secondary education and the effectiveness of TVET in Barbados, and ensuring the island meets the demands of the labour market and the skills requirements for the 21st century.

The programme has four components that integrate with the Government’s Human Resource Development Strategy, 2011-2016. The first component seeks to better align the supply of training with market demand and will see loan resources used to manage and operate a CBTF. The Fund will award grants on a competitive basis to private sector-driven training initiatives. Funding will be disseminated based on proposals submitted by partnerships formed between employers and training institutions to execute competency based training leading to certification.

Another objective of the programme is to improve the quality of life skills and core competencies presented within secondary and vocational education so that, upon graduation, students have the core skills and life skills necessary to enter the labour market or continue studying.

Skills For The Future will also place emphasis on Institutional strengthening. The operation will support selected institutions with the development and implementation of business plans; leadership and capacity development to respond to the challenges of revamping the TVET system; and improved data analysis and information systems within specific Ministries.

A communication campaign will be launched in 2014 to ensure wide-spread dissemination of information on the objectives of the Skills for the Future programme; promote the development and implementation of National Vocational Qualifications and Caribbean Vocational Qualifications; and raise the overall profile of TVET in Barbados.

With the convening of the January 26-28 conference here in Barbados, it is expected that further attention will be drawn to this programme.

Persons interested in attending the 2014 TVET conference should register at or call Programme Coordinator of the Programme Coordinating Unit of the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Paul Murphy, at 430-2793, by Friday, January 17.

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