Programme helping to retool workers for 21st century

Senator Dr. Esther Byer, Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development is pleased with the success to date of the Skills for the Future Programme, in particular the achievements of the Competence-Based Training Fund (CBTF) and the work being done by the Competence-Based Training Fund Management Unit (CMU).

“It was in November, 2012 that the Government of Barbados and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) entered into a loan agreement for the implementation of the Skills for the Future Programme. The overall developmental objective of the programme was to support Barbados’ Human Resource Development Strategy with an emphasis on improving the quality and relevance of secondary education, and the effectiveness of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET),” she recalled.

“As part of supporting an employer-driven training system which facilitates a better alignment of the supply of training with market demand, the CBTF was expected to fund competency-based training proposals of up to BDS$800 000 each via a competitive, transparent process for a total disbursement of BDS$13 million.”

Recently, at the Cocktail Reception for the official announcement of the Competency-Based Training Fund Cycle 3 Grant Awardees, held at the Sea Breeze Hotel, she gave an update:

“The third and final Call for Proposals, which launched in February and closed in March 2015, resulted in a total of 34 submissions, six of which have been approved for a total of $2.8 million in funding. 

“This third round of CBTF grant recipients represents a cross-section of industries including Construction, Manufacturing, Retail, Agriculture and Hospitality. Over 800 workers are expected to be trained and certified and three new occupational standards developed. Overall, so far $3 676 000 in funds have been disbursed to the employer-training provider partnerships approved under Cycles 1 and 2 of the CBTF project. Furthermore, during the quarter ending March 2015, a total of 610 persons have been trained across the competitive cycles. Seventy seven of these persons were employed outside of the existing partnerships, while 498 persons were from the partnerships’ firms. A total of 35 unemployed persons were also trained during this period. 

“Most importantly, I want to stress that the approximately 3 600 individuals to be trained, both current and prospective members of Barbados’ workforce, will be gaining new knowledge and skills which will help to improve performance, productivity and competitiveness in the workplace and ultimately Barbados’ economy. It is anticipated this will lead to a stronger local economy, better placed to fight the effects of the prolonged worldwide economic recession.” 

Dr. Byer added,“The occupational areas in which the standards-based training and certification has already started, or will soon commence, include: stevedoring operations; industrial security operations; management; occupational safety and health; animation; textile and apparel manufacturing; amenity horticulture; agriculture; customer service; TV/video and film production; printing; health and wellness; furniture making; and the construction industry – i.e. masonry, carpentry, plumbing and electrical installation. 

“I also want to stress that even though the Call for Proposals phase has now officially ended, the work as you can see will continue with the training, assessment and certification. The CMU will also be actively monitoring the winning partnerships to ensure the physical and financial progress of their training programmes through to the conclusion of the Skills for the Future Programme in November 2016. 

“The Skills for the Future Programme is meant to build on the strong foundation of the education system that Barbados possesses but which has served its purpose. Around the world other countries are engaged in exercises similar to Barbados…Barbados has much for which to give thanks to both the IDB, which funded the Skills for the Future Programme, and the European Union Commission, which funded the Barbados Human Resource Development Strategy.” 

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