Director of Industrial Relations, Queen’s University, Canada, Paul Juniper speaking at?? this morning’s presentation of survey results.??(A. Miller/BGIS)

The development of its human capital is key for Barbados and other nations in the region.

This was underscored by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Andrew Cox, as he addressed a Presentation of Survey Results for An Inquiry into the State of the Human Resources Profession in the Caribbean at the Cave Hill School of Business, University of the West Indies.

The survey was a collaboration between the School of Business and Queen’s University in Canada and focused on the state of human resources (HR) in the Caribbean.

While observing that Government continued to place emphasis in human capital development through education and training, Mr. Cox acknowledged that this training, however, needed to be guided by a particular vision.

He said: "For too long we have been training and educating people at our educational institutions in areas that are not specifically required by industry.?? We have heard the concerns raised by employers that workers do not possess all of the necessary skills to support their operations…To address the concerns raised by employers we have developed the Barbados Human Resource Development Strategy."

This strategy, he observed, featured five pillars which included the creation of an internationally recognised national qualifications framework and the implementation of demand driven professional development and training services.??

By extension, Mr. Cox said there was also a need to "constantly question whether the graduates from our educational institutions are finding employment in their areas of training; whether they are satisfying their employer’s needs and whether they are skilled enough to build successful businesses."??

Citing a recent Barbados Vocational Training Board tracer study of construction students who graduated in 2011, Mr. Cox noted it showed that 48 per cent of the trainees were employed, with 39 per cent of them employed in their area of study. "While this information only represents one industry, it does indicate the need for increased research and greater consultation between training institutions and industry to ensure that our training programmes are relevant and designed to achieve development goals," he stressed.

With the need for a demand-driven training system becoming more evident, the Permanent Secretary maintained that flexibility in curricula development would be key, including the combination of traditional face-to-face instruction with technology for teaching.?? He added that these developments have been addressed in the recently approved Barbados Human Resource Development Strategy, prepared by the Labour and Education ministries; and the Technical Vocational Education and Training Council’s National Training Plan.

According to Director of the Queen’s University Industrial Relations Centre, Paul Juniper, the survey of regional HR practitioners revealed that while their responsibility and workloads have increased over time, major challenges included lack of respect for the HR function and profession; transforming the HR role from administrative to strategic; and lacking necessary skills and networking for the job.

As a result, he encouraged HR professionals to join the Human Resource Management Association of Barbados as a means of support at their workplace.

Eighty-one per cent of the respondents were female, and 19 per cent were males, with 61 per cent operating in departments with less than five persons.?? Forty-one per cent of respondents indicated there was a budget for training and development, with 70 per cent of persons optimistic about the future of HR in the region.

The largest number of participants – 40 per cent – were drawn from Barbados. Other participating countries included Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.


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