Minister: Remove stigma

Minister of Labour Esther Byer-Suckoo is appealing to Barbadians to

erase the stigma associated with technical and vocational education training.

In addition, Byer-Suckoo has called on private sector entities and

learning institutions to play a greater role in supplying policymakers with

information regarding the requisite type of training needed to meet the

demand in the various industries.

She said oftentimes when meetings were called and employers were

asked to come and share their views the same few people would show up

each time.

Byer-Suckoo was speaking at the end of the two-day Skills for the

Future Barbados 2014 conference at the Hilton on Tuesday.

“We talk about the stigma and it is so important for parents and

students to understand what technical and vocational education training is,”

said Byer-Suckoo.

“If we can help our students and their parents to tear away that stigma

that is associated with it then they wouldn’t hang their head in shame when

a parent sees another parent in the supermarket and one says my son is

gone off to Trinidad to do engineering, what is your son doing?” she added.

She said: “Let us try to tear away at that stigma that we have been

talking about. We have been talking about it but we also need to make sure

in our own personal dialogues when we speak we don’t say ‘he is just a

plumber or he is only doing construction work or he didn’t get through so

he is over at skills training’. Let us take those words out of our vocabulary

it is the only place we can begin. We have to change the dialogue”.

The minister said there needed to be “some serious curriculum

reform”, adding that students and parents should also have an input in

the discussions.

She said the new curriculum would require “new methodologies and

new tools”, adding that it was not just a job for government but for

all stakeholders.

“I am thinking right away that I need to look at some of the committees

we have and see if I have enough representation from the private sector

and from the training agencies to ensure that that can happen. From

tomorrow I want to see educators on board telling us what they need and I

need to see educators on board telling us what they need,” she said.

The mother of three said it was critical for officials at learning

institutions and parents to encourage children to

study what they wanted to do even if there was not yet a market for

it here.

“By doing so, said Byer-Suckoo, new industries could be created here

along with new employment opportunities and new economic drivers.

“We need to have our children thinking that they can [study] anything

and come back home and create an industry with it . . . If we want to talk

about innovation that is what we have to tell our children,” she said. (MM)

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