One of Barbados??? strengths is its human resource and businesses must continue to invest in this vital resource, starting with our youth.

This was emphasised by Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, as she delivered remarks at the opening of WorldSkills Barbados 2014, at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.

Dr. Byer Suckoo, while urging employers and companies to continue investing in the nation???s youth, said she was happy to see the sponsorship that the competition was able to attract in terms of funding, donations of much needed materials and equipment and volunteers.

???Your support is important to the success of this competition and these young people on the world stage. By successfully staging this competition for a second time, Barbados is demonstrating to its peers in other parts of the world the high quality of Barbados??? technical and vocational training system and of the graduates it turns out. So, I join with the [Technical and Vocational Education and Training] Council in extending a heartfelt thanks to the private sector for its support,??? the Minister said.

Noting that while the investment in quality, technical and vocational training was expensive, but worthwhile, Senator Byer Suckoo added that Barbados??? participation in WorldSkills has exposed the country to what other nations were doing. ???And from what I gather, they are making huge investments in TVET because they expect to see the returns in the near future and in the long term. We, in Barbados, must take note of this, if we are not to be left behind in the new global economy in which our people must be able to compete effectively,??? she advised, adding that the competition would assist in establishing international standards of excellence as the benchmark for Barbados.

The Labour Minister said that in terms of the future of WorldSkills Barbados, she hoped to see emphasis being placed on preparing more young people to compete successfully in a greater number of skilled areas. ???This process will require the use of the best equipment, advanced technologies and up-to-date standards for each trade or service???

???My hope, therefore, is that we can build on our present achievements by having competitors from each of these five skills areas compete successfully at the WorldSkills Americas in the near future,??? Minister Byer Suckoo added, noting that it was this country???s ultimate aim to become one of the 62 member countries competing at WorldSkills International and bringing home medals.

WorldSkills Barbados 2014 is being held from Wednesday, March 12, to Friday March 14, at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 15 at the Dining Club, Newton Industrial Park, Christ Church, for the culinary arts competition.

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