Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart,??addressing the audience at the TVET Council’s 15th anniversary dinner at the Crane Resort.

From April to August of this year, 2,165 persons have been trained through grants from the Employment Training Fund (ETF) of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council, at a cost of over $1 million.??

This was disclosed recently by Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he delivered the feature address at the TVET Council’s 15th anniversary dinner.

According to Mr. Stuart, since commencing operations in 1997, the ETF had awarded training grants valued at some $13 million to train approximately 27,690 persons. The areas of training ranged from upgrading of supervisory and management skills, to training in information technology and aviation security.

He noted that by engaging in the validation of CARICOM approved regional standards in a variety of areas, TVET was being placed in a strategic regional position, as efforts were made to grasp opportunities related to the movement of certified skilled Barbadian labour under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

??Mr. Stuart added that the Council Fund was "playing a critical role in improving Barbados’ human capital in this important regard".

The acting Prime Minister stressed that investing and reinvesting in human capital was critical to "surviving in these difficult economic times and beyond". He observed: "TVET has an important role to play in maximising the capacity of our workers to explore, to exploit and to produce for the benefit of this nation and region.

"This capacity is a unique amalgam of attitudes and aptitudes, skills and competencies, inheritances and choices. It is all of these that determine not only the employability of this nation’s workforce, but also the productive capacity and the international competitiveness of the nation itself," he asserted.

Mr. Stuart referred to Dr. Hassan Ndahi, Senior Specialist in the area of Skills and Employability, ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean, who had advised that the recession was an appropriate time to invest even more in the training and retraining of workers.

"This training and retraining will equip these workers to take on the new challenges of the current financial crisis, and to aim for improved productivity when the economy recovers," he stated.

Meanwhile, in his remarks, Minister of State, Labour and Immigration, Senator Arni Walters, pointed out that the importance of technical and vocational education and training could not be underestimated.

"We are cognisant of the fact that there is an increasing demand by both local and overseas employers for workers who are equipped with the skills and competency-based qualifications required for the workplace," he maintained.

Senator Walters commended the TVET Council for the work it had been carrying out with respect to National Vocational Qualifications. He contended that it would go a long way in giving Barbadians the tools to perform jobs according to internationally benchmarked standards.

"Skills development is essential to address the opportunities and challenges to meet demands of changing economies and new technologies in the context of globalisation," Mr. Walters suggested.

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