WorldSkills 2014 ???hit the road??? over the weekend with a motorcade to officially launch the competition which will begin this week, and Labour Minister, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, has encouraged the public to come out and support the endeavour.

Speaking at the start of last Saturday???s motorcade at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic in Wildey, St. Michael, Minister Byer Suckoo noted that the WorldSkills theme was designed to shape the local workforce to be world class through innovation, creativity and skills development.

???We know that in shaping our workforce and improving productivity in Barbados, it is not just about academia…but technical and vocational education and training (TVET) [as well],??? she said, adding that since much of the local work force was technically oriented, skills and attitudes needed to be improved. She also took the opportunity to thank the sponsors for making WorldSkills 2014 a reality.

Henderson Eastmond, Executive Director of the WorldSkills coordinating body, the TVET Council, also thanked sponsors and the training institutions which had contributed to the effort, despite tough times.

He said: “WorldSkills is one of our flagship activities to promote technical and vocational education across the country…One of the winners from the competition went on to Brazil [for WorldSkills Americas in 2012] and did well, bringing home the silver medal. ???We are hoping to repeat that feat this year when we go to Colombia and would like to participate in WorldSkills Americas in more areas. We’re hoping that this WorldSkills competition can grow, as we seek to improve the standards of TVET education in the country to international standards,??? Mr. Eastmond said.

The Executive Director also expressed hope that Barbados would make it to the ultimate competition – WorldSkills International – within the next five years, a move which, Manager of the Competency Based Fund, Anderson Lowe, acknowledged could only redound to this island???s benefit.

Mr. Lowe explained that the fund, which was set up as part of Government???s Human Resource Development Strategy (HRDS), was created to promote the development of TVET in Barbados. He noted that the aim was to increase the cadre of certified persons in the workforce, over the next three years.

???We are hoping to align the skills [offered] by the institutions with the requirements of employers and the fund is set up to fund those training requirements???[and] developing the needs and the critical skills that our workplace needs now and into the future,??? he said, revealing that attention would be given to both established industries, as well as newer ones such as renewable energy and health and wellness.

The public is invited to attend the WorldSkills 2014 competitions, which run from Wednesday, March 12 to Friday, March 14, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic; and on Saturday, March 15, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Dining Club, Newton Industrial Park, Newton, Christ Church.

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