UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the OECS, Didier Trebucq speaking virtually at the launch of government’s Employability Project yesterday, while Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Dr. Karen Best and Minister, Colin Jordan, look on. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the OECS, Didier Trebucq, has described Government’s Employability Project, launched on Wednesday via Zoom, as both timely and relevant.

Noting that it ‘is exactly what is needed now’, he congratulated the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations on the initiative that he also regarded as “important” and “impactful”, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a response, we have to prepare and I believe this is what is being done today because despite the negative effects of COVID-19, we must take advantage of the crisis and seize the opportunities that it can bring.

“In this respect, Barbados is demonstrating a great deal of responsibility, responsiveness and innovation in its measures to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on families, the economy and workers, including to protect the most vulnerable, and this is probably what matters a lot as well in this project,” he stated.

Recalling that in last week’s ILO Global Summit, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley had highlighted the importance of training, retraining and retooling of human resources, the UN official remarked: “I think this is indeed paramount, as countries try to find ways to expand opportunities for employment in this new context.”

While noting that COVID-19 was projected to put some 1.5 million jobs at risk in the Caribbean, he said it had also highlighted gaps with respect to inequalities and the digital world, and it was therefore essential to find alternative solutions and to innovate to ensure workers are able to be reinserted in the job market.

Mr. Trebucq also acknowledged that the Employability Project, with its emphasis on three online courses (Core/soft skills, Occupational Safety and Health, and Entrepreneurship), addressed the specific objectives of the broader UN Response Plan. 

He said it had the potential to set the foundation for the development of a larger scale programme that could include additional training for more people than its initial target of 3,000.

The Employability Project is a free online programme, which is available on the platform of the National Training Initiative.

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