Technical and vocational (TECVOC) skills are more than a ‘fallback’ option, they are valuable professions.

This was the sentiment shared this morning by those delivering remarks at the opening ceremony of the C. Lomer Alleyne Annex, located at the Barbados Vocational Training Board’s (BVTB) Sayes Court site.

Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo was one of the speakers who queried why persons tend to “devalue those careers that are so vital in our daily lives”.

Senator Suckoo asserted: “If we come home to a flooded bathroom, or wake up and the car would not start, we know we need those services.  The services and skills are important, but kept in the background for emergencies. TECVOC creates decent and productive jobs for our mechanics etc.

“This technical training can make persons employable thus allowing them to be able to access decent work and move away from poverty.  This is an important message today for persons who now have to seek alternative employment.  What skills do you have that you can turn into money?  Or what skills would you like to have?,” she said.

Lauding the BVTB’s commitment to helping Barbadians develop and attain such skills, the Labour Minister acknowledged that the wheelchair-accessible C. Lomer Annex, which houses a classroom, resource center and air conditioning and refrigeration workshop room, was a welcome addition to the space deficient BVTB.  She noted that “Over the last three years or so, the Board has been experiencing a critical shortage of appropriate training workshop space which naturally would have impacted negatively on the delivery of training.  This was exacerbated by the closure of the St. Patrick’s Centre and the Six Road’s Centre due to environmental concerns.

“I am pleased to report however, that the Six Road’s location will shortly be back in operation, and in the interim, the Board has also partnered with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) for the use of space at Deacons.  This has eased a bit of the challenge of space but the matter is by no means resolved,” she stressed.

Dr. Suckoo highlighted Government’s ongoing commitment to TVET development, having secured European Union funding for the implementation of the Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy and the recently hosted Skills for the Future conference, part of a larger Government/Inter-American Development Bank project.

“A component of this initiative is the establishment of a Competency Based Training Fund, a component of the HRD Strategy.  But there is a lot of work to be done. I am challenging the Board to be at the forefront of the marketing and promotion of TVET and the benefits which can accrue from it.  Continually reinvent the Board to remain relevant to the changing needs of the country, the employers and the potential students,” the Minister advised.

BVTB Deputy Chairman, Guy Hewitt, said that the Board was up for the challenge and observed that “notwithstanding an excellent education programme, it doesn’t always cater for the diversity of interests or abilities”.  He also revealed that BVTB was now a City and Guilds approved centre, which would provide internationally recognised certification for future graduates.

Noting that they would continue to strive to improve and expand their offerings, BVTB Director of Training, Henderson Thompson, said: “Progress is not created by contended people.  If we are to grow and expand and train our workforce, and retrain our workforce, we need adequate space.” 

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