Secondary school students from across the island got a glimpse of future career choices, when they attended the Barbados Association of Guidance Counsellors’ (BAGC) 11th National Careers Showcase.
Held recently at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, the showcase featured several display booths where students could interact with the facilitators and learn about the responsibilities and functions of each career.
President of the BAGC, Janice Jemmott, noted that the aim of the showcase was to ensure the students were able to connect their studies with careers, so they could “make wise choices at the points when they are selecting subjects”.
Ms. Jemmott underlined: “Other than all the careers you see on display, we also have the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and the Barbados Community College here. The faculties of the UWI Campus are also open for students to tour, so they could get to see the Sports Complex, the Medical Faculty, and the Errol Barrow Centre, in order to connect careers with studies.”
According to the BAGC President, each year her organisation intends to make the showcase bigger and better, and in the future “would certainly like to expose information on National Vocational Qualifications and Caribbean Vocational Qualifications”.
Vice President of the BAGC, Saul Leacock, said the number of students attending this year had increased. “We have students from Deighton Griffith, Lester Vaughn, Daryll Jordan, Harrison College, Queen’s College, The St. Michael School, almost all the secondary schools are invited, and these include the private secondary schools, like St. Ursula’s. We haven’t had any exemptions,” he remarked.
The members of the Royal Barbados Police Force had on display guns and equipment, such as ballistic shields, a taser, and a bomb suit at their booth. Constable 1582, Roger Knight said that the children were attentive and interacted very well with them.
“We have a lot of equipment here on display which we use on a daily basis… The children have been asking a lot about the names of the guns and what they do and how they operate. We try to explain to them that each gun is used for a specific task and in every situation that occurs we try to use graduating levels of responses beginning with non-lethal weapons … It’s about using the right tool for the right job,” he explained.
Photography was also on show, as Michael Trotman from Michael Trotman Photography took photographs of enthusiastic students who were eager to see those photos as soon as they were taken. Mr. Trotman said that “it was always fun to interact with young people”.
“Sometimes what we see as relevant as adults, children don’t really see as relevant, so they would ask questions like ‘how big is your house or how much money do you make’. What we need to do is restructure their brains to choose a career that they enjoy as opposed to what seems to make the most money,” he advised.
Mr. Trotman said that many people do not see photography as a career because it is seen as a “side-job”, but he was glad to have the opportunity to show the students that “it is very possible to make a very good living from photography and in the arts on a whole”.
Foreign Language Teacher from the Lester Vaughn School, Andrea Knight, agreed that her students were asking about the amount of money that a particular career makes, as opposed to what they are passionate about.
She remarked: “So far none of my students have asked the exhibitors ‘Do you enjoy your job?’… It’s all about the money… We now have to show these students that there are many people who have money, but are not happy. So, the students need to understand that it is what they enjoy doing and how they can market themselves and their skills.”
President of the Barbados Economics Society and Lecturer in the UWI Faculty of Social Sciences, Jeremy Stephen, said that he enjoys working with young students. “The interaction is great; it gives us a chance not only to talk about the careers that can come out of the degrees, but more so, it gives us lecturers a chance to understand the next generation that is coming up and what they aspire towards,” he stated.
Mr. Stephen also said that the feedback from the students has been very positive. “We try to be more storytellers and not necessarily lecturers, so the exhibit would be more entertaining for them, rather than just telling them what the benefits of a degree are. It would be interesting to see how many of them actually choose to become members of our UWI family,” he remarked.
Fourteen-year-old Shaunte Cave of the Lester Vaughn School said that she learned a lot and enjoyed the experience. “In the future, I would like to be a Chef and a Music Producer. I would like to start my own restaurant. Where my studies are concerned, I already do Home Economics and Music, but I am now deciding whether I should come to UWI, or go to PomMarine,” she shared.
Other careers which were on display included those of architects, engineers, and funeral directors, and those from the Barbados Port Inc, The Animal Control Unit, Invest Barbados, the National Library Service, the Barbados Coast Guard and the Barbados Prison Service.
BAGC’s 11th National Careers Showcase was sponsored by the Ministry of Labour’s Human Resource Development Strategy; the Caribbean Development Bank; the Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Union; and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.