Forty competitors from 10 secondary schools across Barbados gathered at the Grantley Adams Memorial, Queen’s College and St. Leonard’s Boys for the preliminaries of the inaugural WorldSkills Barbados Juniors (WSBJ) Competition recently.
The students were vying for a chance to reach the finals of the competition, which is scheduled to take place from November 26 to 28, 2019 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC), Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.
The secondary schools, which competed in the preliminaries, were the Barbados Seventh Day Adventist, Deighton Griffith, Ellerslie, Frederick Smith, Christ Church Foundation, Grantley Adams Memorial, Graydon Sealy, Queen’s College, St. Leonard’s Boys and Lodge.
Students in the 14 to 16 age group competed in one of four skill areas over the two-day period: Cabinet Making, Cooking, Electrical Installation and Hairdressing.
Each student was required to complete a 2.5 hour module from the Test Project for their respective skill area. The test projects contain the criteria for the knowledge and skills in which the competitors are expected to demonstrate their excellence when assessed against WSBJ standards.
As the preliminaries got under way at the three sites, students listened to last minute advice from their teachers and tried to calm nerves while they mentally prepared themselves for an opportunity to test their skills and abilities against recognized standards.
Speaking at Grantley Adams Memorial, where the Hairdressing preliminaries were held, Gillian Trotman, teacher with the school’s General Cosmetology Programme since 2003, expressed appreciation for the WorldSkills Barbados
The Juniors Competition she said encouraged the students to strive for excellence in their prospective careers. “The idea is a good one especially once we are able to get more practice time going forward. Time for the students to train to the WorldSkills Barbados Juniors standards and for them to be exposed to the criteria,” she said.
She added: “The WorldSkills Barbados Juniors standards will help to change or push the level of teaching taking place right now and the level at which the students will be expected to perform. This should help to improve the curriculum.”
Cosmetology Teacher at Graydon Sealy, Ashlee Edwards, echoed Ms. Trotman’s sentiments. She noted that the WSBJ standards exposed the students to a higher standard of practice which complemented the curriculum being taught in the schools for the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) in Cosmetology Level 1.
At Queen’s College, where the Cabinet Making and Cooking preliminaries took place, Nicholas Bedford, Head of the Industrial Arts Department at the Barbados Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School, commended the TVET Council Barbados and the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT) for efforts to organize the WSBJ Competition.
“It was something that the students embraced. I didn’t have to prompt them. They were ready and willing to get involved. They were excited to represent the school and make the sacrifice for the preparation that was required, in fact, so too did the other staff members” he said, adding “the opportunity was one we at the school couldn’t pass up because we embrace every chance we get to expose the students to real world standards.”
The launch of the inaugural WSBJ Competition, which is a collaboration between the TVET Council Barbados and the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT) was announced last month by Parliamentary Secretary Dr. Romel Springer.
Speaking at a presentation ceremony for the Barbados Team to WorldSkills Kazan 2019, Dr. Springer said the WSBJ Competition was intended to promote excellence in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) at an earlier age, complement the expansion of the National and Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (N/CVQs) programme in secondary schools, and help to improve the quality of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Barbados.