Workers, businesses, and organisations must be equipped to take advantage of opportunities when Barbados emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, emphasised this today as he addressed the launch of Government’s Employability Project at the Warrens Office Complex, which was streamed on the Zoom platform.
Speaking on the new initiative that is supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Minister Jordan said: “Our people must be trained, must be retrained, must be better equipped to face a post-COVID-19 Barbados. Employees and laid-off workers need to seek to capitalise on any training opportunities, being offered. Wherever possible, Government will seek to keep courses free of charge. Once workers become proficient and effective, and recognise that their effort is valued, we believe that the overall performance of organisations will improve.”
Pointing out that Barbadians would have access to three free online courses, initially on the platform of the National Training Initiative (NTI), he said the intention is to broaden the reach of these courses – Core/Soft Skills, Occupational Safety and Health, and Entrepreneurship – by also utilising other modes of sharing the content with workers.
Prospective participants heard that the courses would allow them, if they so desire, to kick-start their own small businesses or cottage industries.
“Our people must be trained, must be retrained, must be better equipped to face a post-COVID-19 Barbados. Employees and laid-off workers need to seek to capitalise on any training opportunities, being offered.”
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan
Elaborating further, Minister Jordan said: “The courses allow for persons who may have been doing what in Barbados we call a ‘side thing’ – plaiting hair, baking, and selling natural juice. They will allow those persons to make these “side things into areas that can provide sustenance, that can provide a living and a livelihood for the persons involved.”
With respect to the course on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), he said it would take on a greater focus in this COVID-19 environment, as persons move more toward teleworking or working from home.
Acknowledging that his Ministry was addressing this, he said while it is easy to address the matter of OSH when one is in a workplace that is an established business or Third Sector Organisation, when that workplace moves to home, monitoring would become a bit more difficult.
He stated that the courses would allow those who prefer to work for someone else to be better equipped to enter the job market as a better person and therefore a better worker.
Noting that the commitment was also there from the ILO, he said the Ministry would be working assiduously with TVET Council and BIMAP to bring these courses to the level of certification.
However, he stressed that the method of certification and the concept of competencies was not meant to dissuade anyone who has been laid off, or lost their job during COVID-19, and may not feel they have the aptitude to reach a level where they can achieve designation from accessing the three courses.
Minister Jordan commended NTI for setting up the first course on line that allows for persons with disabilities to have access, and pointed out that it fitted in with the country’s role and responsibility to be inclusive to all members of society.
Officers in the Ministry as well as ILO representatives also came in for praise with the latter being recognised for continuing “to advocate and to lend support to countries across the globe to advance workers’ rights and decent work”.
The Labour Minister also noted that the Employability Project, along with Job Start Plus, a first-job programme launched last year for young people and the NTI, was a key aspect of Government’s Retooling and Empowering, Retraining and Enfranchising.