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Lashley: Youth must continue to innovate

(L-R) panellists: Cardell Fergusson Barbados Youth Business Trust, Brian Linton Garnet Technologies, Patrick Hinkson VP TeleBarbados Inc.

The need for Barbadians to stay abreast of technology was emphasised this morning by Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley.

Addressing this morning’s Youth Forum of the Caribbean ICT Roadshow at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, he said that living in a world where technology was advancing at a tremendous rate there was a need to be innovative and stay abreast of the rapid changes.

“Today’s Youth Forum is an opportunity for youth, especially young entrepreneurs to focus on the range of initiatives that can assist them in driving their businesses forward and to contribute to the legacy of innovation that can address the challenges faced and opportunities to be discovered along their pathways to success,” he said.

“Young people need to determine where they can contribute to lessening the technological divide – what innovations they can create or re-create to transform our societies or to aid development and to enhance our business sectors.”

Lashley said that the Barbados Government was determined not to be left behind technologically so they had developed specific programmes aimed at leading the way with a cadre of innovative and highly creative young entrepreneurs via the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme.

“Through the two age-appropriate business ventures training modules, and a very practical package of technical assistance and services, youth from as young as 10 years and as old as 35 years, are provided with the requisite skills and knowledge to move their idea to enterprise.

Financial assistance

“Within the YES programme, youth are enabled to achieve in business development by not only channelling their creative and innovative energies into the formation of very viable and successful businesses but they are also offered financial assistance through agencies such as the Barbados Youth Business Trust and Fund Access that understand the peculiar needs and constraints of the young entrepreneurs.

“Youth who are engaged in the YES programmes also have opportunities to showcase their businesses at various exhibitions, thereby capitalising on prospects for marketing and to be sources of inspiration to fellow youth.”

Lashley, who is also Minister of Family, added that for the youth to harness innovation through entrepreneurship, a number of key strategies needed to be implemented so that their journey to success was viable. These include education and training programmes, which he said were important components of any strategy to promote entrepreneurial activity amongst the young.

In addition, he added, the aim was to establish innovation centres to encourage and support a problem solving approach to the challenges facing young people.

“We are doing a lot of innovation because we think that captive audience particularly from eight to 15 is when you really need to get people to start thinking innovatively. Most of those youngsters know how to actually get a telephone up and running without a manual and it’s that kind of intellect that we need to actually start from there and then. In the National Youth Policy we plan to set up a number of innovation centres across Barbados to really get that going in a systematic way,” he told Barbados TODAY.

Gov’t committed

“Our Government’s commitment to entrepreneurship captures its vision for youth in the National Youth Policy of Barbados, recently approved by the Cabinet, which clearly charts our way forward in exposing youth to the culture of business enterprise.

“By working closely with a number of key institutions of learning and financial assistance, the YES programme will be expanded to have a greater potential in setting Barbados as the number one entrepreneurial hub by the year 2020.

Innovative methods of Business organisation, investment, production and marketing will be used to help young people make the transition to self-employment,” he said.

Today was the second day of the ICT Roadshow, it has been held in 17 other territories in the Caribbean. The event was said to highlight and celebrate regional innovators and innovations and build consensus on collaborative approaches to achieving measurable national and regional progress through effective utilisation of Information Communication Technologies.

The Youth Forum was organised by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union in collaboration with the Division of Energy and Telecommunications, in the Prime Minister’s Office and students of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, Deighton Griffith Secondary, Springer Memorial Secondary and the Garrison Secondary schools attended the forum and were given information of how to shape their futures in entrepreneurship. (KC)

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