Barbados is one of 12 countries which will benefit from the CARICOM Education for Employment (C-EFE) programme.

It???s a Canadian 20 million dollar project aimed at transforming the region???s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system from ???traditional and academic???, to one which is demand driven and more responsive to the needs of society.

This was disclosed by Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who gave opening remarks at the 20th anniversary lecture of TVET Council Barbados, entitled ???Repositioning TVET as the Engine for Economic Growth???, held on Wednesday, November 5.

She stated: ???C-EFE will equip learners with skills for jobs of the future and increase economic growth through a more competitive, productive and gender equitable workforce in the CARICOM region, as well as highlight the development of a skilled workforce with more participation among disadvantaged groups.???

The Minister also mentioned that C-EFE ???goes hand in hand with the Barbados Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy???, which is an integral part in the promotion of competence-based technical and vocational education and training and certification to ensure that workers are equipped with the skills and competencies required for the sustainable development of the economy.

The night???s featured speaker, Dr. Hassan Ndahi, made several points which highlighted the importance of TVET to a country.

He observed: ???The purpose of school is to solve the problems in the community. So, we need to go back to the community, ask the employers what they want, ask the workers what they want so that [a university???s] curriculum would reflect the needs of the community because when the students graduate they go back into the community to work.???

Dr. Ndahi also pointed out that there has to be a sustainable means of financing education, and regardless of what is happening in the economy, a country should provide at least 70 to 80% of its financing.

He stressed: ???We have to change our mindset to the fact that it is our responsibility to fund education. Education is an investment, but there is no government in the world that can fund education on its own. So, as a service to society, everyone has to be part of the investment.???

The ILO Employment Specialist also advised: ???We have to sit down and have a discussion and when we put money [into the Education Fund] we have to ask questions about how the money is being used. Whenever I talk about this, people say that it is a sensitive issue.

“There is nothing sensitive about money because we all have it and we all use it and we should talk about it more. Put in money, ask questions and you can see how you will transform the Caribbean.???

The lecture was part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of TVET Council Barbados, and was held on the same day as the 24th meeting of the recently renamed Caribbean Association of National Training Authorities (CANTA).

TVET Council Barbados is one of three founding members of CANTA, which is the implementation arm of the CARICOM Regional Coordinating Mechanism for Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

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