The WorldSkills Barbados competition is a vehicle for changing the outdated Barbadian view of “the bright child versus the ‘duncy’ child”.
This assertion has come from chairman of the TVET Council Barbados, Dr. Albert Best. He was speaking during a media briefing this morning at the Ministry of Education to announce the launch of the WorldSkills Barbados Competition.
It will take place this year from November 19 – 22, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.
“I grew up in an era where children were told to study hard to become doctors and lawyers but does it require any less effort whether in or out of a classroom to become a competent motor mechanic or an executive chef? And is an electrician or a skilled farmer any less essential to our current way of life?
“The WorldSkills Barbados competition is a vehicle for changing the archaic Barbadian perspective of the bright child versus the ‘duncy’ child. We all need to be on board to nurture the diverse career pathways that are becoming available to all of our children and are being highlighted through these competitions,” Dr. Best emphasised.
He told those in attendance, including competitors and representatives from technical vocational education and training institutions, that the Council was currently working on building a dual education system in Barbados.
This, he explained, would be built on four modalities – The mapping of curricula to WorldSkills International standards; capacity building training in several technological areas through partnerships where WorldSkills International is a major partner; the implementation of higher level Caribbean and National Vocational Qualifications from level 3 and up; and the development of applied and occupational associate and bachelor degrees and possibly masters.
“Occupational and applied degrees prepare students for careers in job-specific areas. They are also equivalent to some traditional degrees and are designed to fill gaps in on the job training. My personal belief is that this addition to our national offerings could also bridge the gap to how the academic graduate and the Tech-Voc (technical-vocational) graduate is perceived socially in Barbados.
“I can vouch for the value of the TVET discipline in complementing the mostly academic process that has dominated Barbados’ education system… The time has long past to transform the thinking and practice which is prohibiting skills development and excellence in this country and the region.
“We believe the WorldSkills programme will do a lot to help improve the quality of Barbados’ National TVET system and ensure that Technical and Vocational Education and Training is truly the key to a highly skilled, competent and productive workforce and the facilitation of diverse pathways including entrepreneurship,” stated the Chairman.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the TVET Council, Henderson Eastmond, said the Council was encouraging training institutions to integrate the WorldSkills International standards into their curricula.
He said this would help prepare TVET students to function at a level where they could qualify for medallions of excellence at International WorldSkills competitions.
The local competitor who came closest to gaining a medallion last year at the 45th biennial WorldSkills International Competition in Kazan, Russia, was Shae White, who competed in the Cooking category.
Mr. Eastmond said that going forward, the aim will be to have each competitor win a medallion, in addition to going after the coveted gold, silver and bronze awards in the various categories.
He added that WorldSkills Barbados had modified its scoring system to raise the bar for students to compete at the international level, in addition to including soft skills as part of the judging.
During this year’s competition 26 finalists – 25 competitors and one reserve – from three public and one private local training institution will vie to win gold, silver or bronze medals in the following categories: Car Painting, Cooking, Fashion Technology, Graphic Design Technology, Hairdressing and Restaurant Service.