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BAHAMAS: PM Opens National Skills Symposium

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#Nassau, September 18, 2018 – Bahamas – In keeping with the government’s commitment to improve the standard of living for Bahamians, Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis officially launched the National Committee for Industry & Skills Development, on Monday, September 17, 2018 at the opening of the National Skills Symposium.

The national committee was established to closely examine the skills gap that presently obstructs economic growth.  Administered by the Ministry of Labour, it comprises an effort to address the lack of sufficient skilled Bahamian workers to meet labour demands, now and in the future.

The launch of the National Skills Symposium, applauded by the Prime Minister, took place at the National Training Agency.  At the launch was Minister of Labour, Senator the Hon. Dion Foulkes, members of the Cabinet and other government officials, and representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank, the business community, trade unions, and educational institutions.

The Prime Minister said he was also pleased at the cross-section of representatives from Grand Bahama and the Family Islands taking part in the nation-wide initiative.

“Your attendance and active participation reflect your commitment to working collaboratively with government to improve the standard of living and quality of life for all citizens and residents of our beloved Bahamas,” he said.

According to the Prime Minister, the progressive and sustainable economic development of The Bahamas is contingent on a number of factors, including education and training: “Skills development is therefore essential not only for economic growth but also the personal development of our people,” he said.

In keeping with a pledge made in the government’s 2017 Manifesto, the Ministry of Labour established the National Committee for Industry & Skills Development.

The committee has been given responsibility to:

  • Assess the current skill needs among key areas of the private sector;
  • Collect information on the skills challenges faced by various sectors and identify common themes and priorities;
  • Develop a comprehensive list of the competencies, credentials and certifications that are required to sustain growth in the economy;
  • Identify related challenges such as education, immigration, and other systemic issues, that affect skill development;
  • Create ongoing systems and fora for collaboration among industry leaders and associations to address the specific needs within their sectors and subsectors; and,
  • Prepare and submit a report, with follow-up activities, and recommendations for the government to consider.

“As you meet today and deliberate on the theme, ‘Forging Our Future: Assessing & Analyzing the Skills Gap in The Bahamas,’ I reaffirm my government’s commitment to education reform,” the Prime Minister said.

He added: “We intend to ensure that Bahamians are adequately equipped to embrace and maximize employment opportunities and participate in our economy in productive and meaningful ways.”

To this end, he said that there is yet much more to be done such as providing pre-school education for approximately 1,000 students in this new academic school year; free tuition at BTVI for students who meet eligibility requirements; and, shortly, commence the phased introduction of laptops for teachers and tablets for primary school students, thereby expanding exposure to and use of technology early in the teaching/learning process.

A purpose of the symposium would be to offer recommendations to the government in achieving its stated objective.

“We are all aware that the matter of job skills is a perennial one.  Many of you here today, have been working diligently for many years to improve and build capacity in the workforce, and create increased opportunities for various industries,” the Prime Minister said.

Statistics from the Department of Immigration confirm that thousands of work permits are approved on an annual basis for foreign workers. Many of these applications are approved primarily because employers claim and provide justification that in many instances Bahamians lack the requisite skills and/or certifications to fill various vacancies.

A key objective of the symposium is to identify skill sets and certifications that are needed with a view to reducing dependency on foreign workers and increasing local work force skills capacity, stimulating growth in the Bahamian economy and reducing the level of unemployment, the Prime Minister said.

The work of the committee will form the basis for the development and implementation of the best mechanisms to strengthen the educational system and, in particular, technical and vocational training programmes, he said.

In July of this year the Prime Minister opened the Department of Labour’s One-Stop-Service Centre, which enables job seekers and employers to interface more easily online.

“Undoubtedly, this support service will become an essential one as the numbers of persons in the job market increase due to their acquired employability skills,” he said.

He said also looks forward to reviewing the comprehensive report from the multi-sectoral National Committee for Industry and Skills Development.  The report will assist the government in linking the “critical needs” of employers with the curricula and training needed to assist the labour force in meeting the demands of the job market now and in the future.

“It is essential for the government to partner with stakeholders, including private industry associations and leaders, labour organizations, educational institutions, and others in civil society.  Our long-term social and economic success depends upon our ability to harness the capabilities and maximize the potential of our Bahamian workforce. This is a key priority for us all.

“This National Skills Symposium is, undoubtedly, a step that will facilitate the accomplishment of our goals,” he said.

The National Committee was formed by Cabinet several months ago and includes representatives from the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB); the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Trade Union Congress (CBTUC); The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation; the National Training Agency (NTA); the University of The Bahamas (UB); University of The West Indies; LJM Maritime Academy; Southern University; The Bahamas Institute of Financial Services; The Bahamas Contractors Association; the Organization for Responsible Governance; and a number of private sector companies both in Nassau and Grand Bahama.

 

By Lindsay Thompson

Release: BIS

Photo Captions:

Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis addresses the National Skills Symposium, September 17, 2018 at National Training Agency.

(BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)

 

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Works Minister tours capital works projects in East Grand Bahama

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#TheBahamas, October 26, 2021 – Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears, on Thursday visited areas of East Grand Bahama on a familiarization tour.

Accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary Baccus Rolle and Director of Public Works Melanie Roach, the delegation was joined by Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey; Senator James Turner; Senator Kirk Russell; Permanent Secretary Harcourt Brown and Island Administrator Sharon Williams.

The delegation visited Water Cay and was able to examine the damaged dock; the design of the reconstructed dock has already been completed.  They visited McClean’s Town Clinic and toured Sweeting’s Cay where some buildings have been condemned, while others have been completed but need to be inspected.

After Sweeting’s Cay they viewed the damage done to the Sea Wall in High Rock. The proposed site for the comprehensive school for East Grand Bahama was also inspected.

It was at the dock in McClean’s Town that Minister Sears addressed the media. He said the purpose of the visit was to survey the capital works projects, and also get briefings from staff.

Minister remarked that it was indeed inspiring to see the generosity of international NGOs such as Core that contributed to the redevelopment and restoration of some of the infrastructure.

The Minister continued, “And of course [there’s] the University of The Bahamas where a lot of work has been done to the building and repurposing of the building to establish a center of research around sustainability and resilience.”

Minister Sears will meet with his staff on Friday morning and then complete his visit with a tour of capital works projects in Freeport and West Grand Bahama – viewing locations such as the Post Office, the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre, the Government Complex in Eight Mile Rock, the Junior High School and then on to West End to view the clinic.

 

By Robyn Adderley

Release: BIS

 

Photo Captions:

Header: A tour of Sweeting’s Cay was on the agenda for Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears when he came to Grand Bahama on Thursday. While there, he was updated on the status of the school, administrator’s office, and had the chance to stop in and view the turtle pond.

1st insert: Another stop to examine capital works projects by Public Works Minister the Hon. Alfred Sears was Water Cay.  The design for the reconstruction of the damaged dock is already underway.

2nd insert: Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears, accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary Baccus Rolle and other staff toured the University of The Bahamas Northern Campus on Thursday. 

MCCLEAN’S TOWN CLINIC – Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears and Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey, toured McClean’s Town Clinic on Thursday as a part of the capital works tour.

 

 

(BIS Photos/Andrew Miller)

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Bahamas gets 57,330 doses of Pfizer vaccine to boost its COVID-19 Vaccination Programme

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#TheBahamas, October 26, 2021 – The Bahamas received some 57,330 doses of Pfizer vaccine as the country continues to rollout the national vaccination pogramme against the COVID-19 virus.

The Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr Michael Darville was on hand to receive the latest tranche of vaccines, which arrived at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on Thursday, October 21, 2021.  Also present were health officials, and PAHO/WHO Country Representative Dr. Eldonna Boisson.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) assisted The Bahamas in receiving the vaccines – the fourth batch — through the COVAX facility, which is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and therapies.

Dr. Darville on behalf of the Bahamian people thanked PAHO and all others, who were instrumental in the country getting the vaccines.  “These vaccines are absolutely essential for our vaccination programme and we have people throughout our Family Islands just waiting for the doses to arrive.

“We are pleased that they are here today and you will see very soon that we will bump up the amount of vaccinations at our various centres not only in New Providence and Grand Bahama but also throughout the Family Islands,” he said.

Dr. Darville explained that the vaccination teams would move “very quickly” because there are people at the various centres waiting to be inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine.

“The programme was scaled back a little bit because we needed to have the vaccines on ground. They are here. They will be stored effectively and you will begin to see even a greater rollout because the appetite and the demand for vaccines particularly Pfizer is definitely on the rise, and that is a good sign for us and we need to be able to adequately meet the demand with the supply” he said.

According to Dr. Darville, the rollout of this tranche of vaccines is expected as early as Friday (Oct 22).  And, this will be realized throughout the Family Islands mainly those where there are high incidences of COVID-19 cases.

“Thanks to PAHO and thanks to all of the other parties involved, we are actually early and that is a good sign for us,” he said, referring to the tentative date of November 1, 2021 rollout.

Added Dr. Darville, “It’s just the small logistics of getting the vaccines to the various locations because the people are very interested throughout the country to be vaccinated because they are finally understanding that [for] the individuals who are vaccinated, the chances of hospitalization if you get COVID is very low, and the chances of death if you get COVID is very low.

These are the things that we keep pushing and the Bahamian people are responding in a very positive way to the vaccines.”

Dr. Boisson said that PAHO/WHO was happy to have been able to assist with the delivery of these much-needed doses.

“We look forward to further assisting by facilitating the provision of more vaccines in the future through the PAHO Revolving Fund, to complement other vaccine supplies and donations,” she said.

Dr. Boisson credited The Bahamas for doing an excellent job of rapidly rolling out COVID-19 vaccines as they become available.

She noted though that the main challenge to the programme has been limited access to vaccines at times, which is because global demand continues to far exceed supply.

“However, here in The Bahamas you are fortunate to have three of the six WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) approved vaccines available to you, namely Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Janssen (or Johnson and Johnson).

“All these vaccines are safe and effective. They have all gone through the same stringent regulatory process in order to be granted WHO EUL approval. They all provide significant protection against severe illness and death,” she said.

Dr. Darville and the Dr. Boisson urged the public to get vaccinated, and also to follow the health safety protocols – wearing of masks, hand sanitizing, and social distancing.

 

By Lindsay Thompson

Release: BIS

Photo Caption: The Bahamas received 57,330 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which arrived at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on Thursday, October 21, 2021. Pictured from left are National Immunization Programme Manager Nurse Ruth Bastian; Colin Higgs, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Wellness; Dr. Pearl McMillan, Chief Medical Officer; PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr. Eldonna Boisson; Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; and Danny Davis, Co-Chair Ministry of Health and Wellness Vaccination Committee.

(BIS Photo/Kristaan Ingraham)

 

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Sia’s vegan creations win New Providence District round of 2021 Culinary Competition

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#TheBahamas, October 26, 2021 – Sia Wright’s vegan dishes earned her the top spot in this year’s recent New Providence district round of the Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Senior Competition.

Participants in the 29th annual Young Chef Competition (New Providence) District are pictured in the Hospitality and Tourism Studies Food Laboratory at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School.

The 11th grade student of Akhepran International Academy who aspires to become a marine biologist and study mammals, entered the competition to challenge her creativity in the kitchen.

“I love the culinary arts,” said Sia. “It has been a passion of mine since I was about 5-years-old. I also think it is amazing to add a plant-based spin on classic Bahamian dishes.”

“My entire immediate family are all vegans.  My siblings and I have all been raised as vegans since birth. We have chosen this lifestyle to ensure [that] we are all healthy and enjoy a high quality of life.  Cooking is something that I enjoy. I look forward to creations featuring a savory dish – ‘Coconut Infused Lentil Brown Stew’ stuffed in a savory parcel topped with pan seared mushroom and mixed salad and a sweet dish – ‘Layered Guava Pudding topped with Chocolate Mousse.’

The contest sponsored by the Ministry of Education (MOE), Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour, challenged the students to use any of the rice and flour products to prepare a dish and dessert based on the theme “Bahamian Culinary Resilience: Going Back to Our Roots.”

The line-up of winners in the 29th annual senior high school competition were:

Sia Wright, first place; Shandon Bain, second place (Kingsway Academy); Alisah Dixon, third place (Bahamas Academy); Kennia Smith, fourth place (C.C. Sweeting); Antwoine Rolle, fifth place (Anatol Rodgers); Dalexis Huyler, sixth place (Anatol Rodgers); Darius Fernander, seventh place (Doris Johnson) and Teanno Kelly, Doris Johnson; eighth place.

Chef Celeste Smith (3rd from left) critiques Kennia Smith’s dish as other judges look on.

The budding chefs concocted their dishes in the Hospitality and Tourism Studies Food Laboratory at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School under the watchful eyes of Chief Judge Gerald Rolle, Clement Williams, Jimmy Dean, Addiemae Farrington, Michael Rolle, and Hazel Rolle, Celeste Smith (pastry chefs).

Of Sia’s rice dish Chef Adderley said, “This impressed me because the flavors I got when I ate this — from the lentils … to the rice, to the mushrooms, this was 100%.

In Atlantis this would blow people away to see that someone this young can put on a plate something like this. This is what I expect to see from someone who has been cooking for 20 years.  He said Sia’s work showed a lot of preparation. “As a chef, you impressed me. [It was] very unique; what makes food different is presentation, uniqueness, flavor and taste,” he added.

Chef Williams said, “The execution is what separates the winner from the loser. It was well executed. When you cut into it, it bursts open with flavor.

“Great job! This is a specialized area in the kitchen. We have guests in the hotels who can’t eat regular food and this is what they want.”

Chef Williams took issue with the portion size of Sia’s dessert advising that it should be smaller. He also suggested that she enhance her dish with dark, sautéed tomatoes for more flavor.

Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer, Turnquest congratulated the students for representing themselves, their families and Family and Consumer Science Education Departments.

“You are the brightest and best of what we have,” said Ms. Turnquest. “Continue with your studies. When you put in the time you will get your reward.”

Darius Fernander, of Doris Johnson Senior High School, is interviewed by judges during the competition.

She said, “The whole idea behind this competition is to have a village type of concept around the knowledge, skills and attitudes, that are young chefs need to have industry, home and school all working together to produce young chefs, young culinarians for the future of The Bahamas.

“The competition is to give the students what they need to pursue a career in hospitality and tourism studies. They may choose to be a chef or start their own business. This is something to get the students engaged and immersed in what they are studying in Family and Consumer Science Education.”

She explained that the future of the competition depends on what happens this year — whether the international sponsors would come back next year and whether the MOE, the primary sponsor, would allow the competition to proceed.

“It’s a team effort. This year competing in COVID-19 is a whole different flavor. Hats off to all of the teachers that have set aside the time to work with the students.”

Darius, the first student ever to represent his school’s Vocational Department, entered ‘Long Island Runner and Coconut Darry’ — curry chicken and white rice with a twist. He described it as a baked tartlet with white rice and the crust and cheese as the base, stuffed with minced curry chicken, vegetables and topped off with cheese. The dessert was ‘Coconut Duff with a Coconut Jimmy Sauce.’

Other dishes included:

 

Antwoine:

‘Rake n’ Scrape Rice Cake with Lemon Grass Spiced Poached Conch and Tropical Salsa’ along with ‘Baked Guava Pancakes with Pineapple and Guava Sauce/Cream Cheese’ topping.

Dalexis:

‘Surf n Turf: Steamed Dumplings with Vitamalt, Passionfruit Sauce’

 

Kennia:

‘Avocado Rice Cheesecake with Spicy Tamarind Sauce’ and ‘Bahama Roll in Sea Grape Sauce Topped with Micro Grains.’

Sia Wright, of Akhepran International Academy, explains her method to the judges during the interview session.

Alisah:

‘Coconut Tart Rice Pudding and Sour Orange Iced Flour Cake Cookies’

The top three winners will move into the national round where they will compete against their counterparts in the Family Islands.

 

By Kathryn Campbell

Release: BIS

 

Header: Sia Wright, first place finisher in the 29th annual Young Chef New Providence District Competition is shown preparing one of her dishes.

(BIS Photos/Raymond Bethel)

 

 

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