#Nassau, September 13, 2018 – Bahamas – One hundred individuals have been identified to participate in a National Skills Symposium to assist in ascertaining if curricula used in government institutions are relevant to the demands of the current job market.
Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis will officially open the symposium on Monday, September 17, 2018 at the National Training Agency, Gladstone Road. The Ministry of Labour has partnered with stakeholders including private industry, educational institutions, labour unions and civil society to host the one-day event. The theme for the symposium is ‘Forging our Future — Assessing and Analyzing the Skills Gap in The Bahamas’.
During a press briefing, September 12, 2018 Senator the Hon. Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labour, announced that some four months ago the Cabinet of The Bahamas established a National Committee for Industry & Skills Development. The symposium is an initiative of the committee along with stakeholders, and is intended for the government, the private sector, civil society, educational institutions and international partners to collaborate in a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach to address the “critical” national problem.
Minister Foulkes underscored that the Prime Minister is “very adamant” about the mission of the symposium.
“He’s [Prime Minister] very concerned about the amount of work permits and labour certificates that we still issue for persons to work in The Bahamas. There’s no sense in having a very active business community, having a lot of business investment, if Bahamians are not qualified to take advantage of the jobs. We want to make sure that the curricula in our government educational institutions at the high school, technical, and tertiary levels are relevant to the demands of the current job market. That is what the symposium is all about: to do an analysis and make recommendations, through me, to the Cabinet as to what we should do as a country going forward.”
Minister Foulkes said the government recognizes that Bahamian employers regularly struggle to find sufficient staff who are proficient in necessary technical and soft skills. Hence, the committee’s goal is to create a stronger pathway for job skills development and greater productivity.
Robert Farquharson, Executive Manager, Ministry of Labour, said the symposium will address sectors relevant to the needs in the labour market — primarily maritime, health and allied services, financial services, hospitality, the construction industry, and manufacturing.
Matthew Aubry, a national committee deputy co-chair, said the symposium is an opportunity for the Ministry and its partners to understand what the challenges are, look at educational opportunities, the type of certifications being presented and align them with job gaps. This would in turn allow private industry to look at, not only current job skills, but future job skills. “We recognize that the greatest resource in The Bahamas is talent and potential in our youth, and we are not seeing that actualized in our productivity.
“We are trying to put things together so we can start, and say not only what are the key hard skills but what are soft skills, and then we can line our educational institutes together like National Training Agency (NTA), Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), and the University of the Bahamas (UB); and they can say, what do we really have, what do we need, and how do we go about collecting those skills.”
The national committee includes representatives from: National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Trade Union Congress, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, NTA, UB, the University of the West Indies, LJM Maritime Academy, Southern University, the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services, the Bahamas Contractors Association, Organization for Responsible Governance and private sector companies in Nassau and Freeport.
The national committee also comprises Carlton Neymour, chairman; Matt Aubry, Marisa Mason-Smith, and Dr. Barbara Rodgers-Newbold, deputy co-chairs; with the sub-committee led by Greg Laroda and Donald Glass.
By Kathryn Campbell