There is a need for education and training to move the renewable energy sector forward in Barbados.

Renewable Energy Coordinator at the Barbados National Oil Company, Felicia Cox, made this call recently, as she urged qualified small business persons to take up the mantle and provide education and training for those seeking to enter the industry, particularly in the area of photovoltaic energy. Failure to do so, she warned, would result in the sector not moving forward the way it should.

Ms. Cox was among panelists making presentations on the topic: Green Business – Renewable Energy with Focus on Solar Energy during the Barbados and Caribbean Day of FOROMIC 2012 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

"If we could find the labour force and get people trained and stimulate the market then we could move the industry forward," she said, noting that the skills needed for solar thermal and solar voltaic energy required a team of people working on one project.

However, Ms. Cox explained that Barbados’ electricians and carpenters were not trained to work with heights, particularly as it related to climbing onto roofs and loading heavy equipment, and they would, therefore, need to receive the necessary training to install renewable energy equipment at people’s homes.

She added that agencies had also recognised the need for the rapid deployment of standards for equipment and for vocational training, and efforts were being made to make it a reality. "There are many things going on in the background," she said.

Also weighing in on the debate was Head of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Unit at the Ministry of Energy, William Hinds, who noted that training needed to be provided at the tertiary and vocational levels.

He disclosed that Government was presently in discussion with some institutions, and private sector companies, to see how such programmes could be incorporated among courses offered.

"If there is an evolving new industry and new lifestyles, there will be a need for a lot of education to make that change," he said. Mr. Hinds also expressed the hope that within another five to 10 years there would be education in the area of renewable energy incorporated into the programmes of such institutions.

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