Barbados cannot achieve a 21st century service ethos by sticking to rules, regulations and structures – utilizing ‘old wineskins’ that have not changed much since Independence.
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, stressed this today as he addressed the Consultation on Human Resource Development (HRD) at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
It was against this backdrop that he said the recent separation of workers from the public service must not be seen merely as a retrenchment exercise but as the first phase in the modernization of the public service.
Noting that the comment was not designed to trivialize or minimize the hurt and the pain still felt by those who have lost their jobs, he reminded those present that Government was in the process of detailing a modernization programme with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Mr. Jordan acknowledged that the programme was intended to utilize many of the persons who recently lost their clerical positions in the public sector and noted the IDB initiative, sometimes referred to as a digitization programme, was expected to result in a “complete modernization”.
He further pointed out that his Ministry, like the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, had a national focus and consequently their policies were designed to effect changes in the quality of workers, as well as in the regulation of the Barbados labour market.
The Labour Minister added that HRD or workforce development, must move beyond just education and training and promote the ambition of an efficient and effective labour market, where employers are able to obtain the skills that they need and job-seekers are able to get the jobs that they like and can succeed in.
Explaining that workforce development was an element of “lifelong learning” firmly grounded in business need and including both formal and informal learning, Mr. Jordan stressed that employability, a core objective in Barbados’ original HRD Strategy 2011-2016, must again be a signal outcome, with lifelong learning the bridge that facilitates continued employability.
He pointed out that workforce development was key to achieving three sets of important outcomes for Barbados in the context of its transformation agenda: increasing social inclusion; raising productivity; and preparing the economy for the future, principally through the stimulating and the formation of skill eco-systems.
“The development of relevant skills must not be perceived simply as investing more in training programmes, as Barbados has been doing continually since Independence. Instead, skill eco-systems must be built on lifelong learning and mechanisms to boost understanding or productivity,” he shared.
The consultation reviewed the HRD Strategy 2011-2016 and looked at the development of a new three-year HRD Strategy that would guide interventions to create a cadre of globally competitive citizens. There was also a presentation on HRD strategies employed by Malta to increase productivity and grow its economy.