Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Training towards regional growth

THE Canadian Government is putting its money behind a programme, which it believes will see the Caribbean region grow economically.

On Monday at Courtyard Marriott in Barbados, Senior Technical Advisor at the CARICOM Education for Employment Programme and at Colleges and Institutes Canada, Linda Cooke, confirmed that Canada is working with the region to ensure economic development.
Senior Technical Advisor at the CARICOM Education for
Employment Programme (C-EFE) and at Colleges and Institutes
Canada, Linda Cooke, says that through the C-EFE an
increase in regional economic development is the target.

She said, “The theory is, that one of the issues in many islands and starting now in Barbados is that there is a lot of unemployment; there is a lot of youth unemployment. In the meantime, skilled workers are being brought in as ex-pats from elsewhere in the world, so there are people without jobs, and jobs without people.

“And if we could match the kinds of training programmes and be more agile about changing what is delivered at some of the technical institutes, Caribbean persons could have those jobs and they would have more economic prosperity, and employers could be attracted to the region as well for investments, because they would know there would be a skill set here to help them with manufacturing or services or whatever the field might be.”

Individuals at the first workshop on Monday at Courtyard
Marriott in Barbados participated in a icebreaker prior to
discussing their challenges, resources and
island’s or province’s best practices.
Therefore, she said that Monday was the first day of a week-long series of activities, with the day’s workshop focusing on 16 partnerships from 12 countries in the Caribbean, between Canadian and Caribbean colleges and institutes “to develop new programmes to meet the skills shortage needs in the Caribbean countries”.

Affirming Canada’s commitment to the cause, she stated, “The CARICOM Education for Employment Programme overall is a CA$20 million Canadian product [funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada]. We’re entering Year Four, so we have dispersed a proportionate amount of that up to this time. …And each of these institutional partnerships, like the one with the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP), has a value of CA$450 000.”

Focusing on logistics, agriculture, automotive, electronics and cosmetology at the higher levels, to name a few areas identified as ways to bring about growth, Cooke reiterated that the programming is tailored to the countries’ needs.

She explained, “Here in Barbados, we’re working with SJPP to develop training for renewable energy technicians. As you would be aware, Barbados’ government has identified renewable energy as one of the major initiatives going forward to reduce the electrical bill, and to make that happen, you’re going to need technicians who can calibrate, repair solar panels, wind generators and so on.”

Meanwhile, she continued, “…In some of the other countries we’re working with, we’re developing programmes in food processing to take better advantage of some of the crops that are grown and reduce the food import bills. We are working in heavy equipment maintenance in a programme in Guyana, to help with the shortages in the mining industry. In some of the other countries, we are working on things like Early Childhood Development programmes, to increase the capacity of the Early Childhood Care programmes to prepare young persons for future skills development.” (KG)

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