Saturday, April 20, 2024

EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: Retooling may be a high price

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The Government is preparing for any fallout from its economic restructuring programme. The BERT (Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation) programme is going to leave a number of people dizzy, if not knocked out.

So the Mia Amor Mottley administration and its economic advisers are talking non-stop about retooling and retraining of the workforce. It is clearly a part of that push to get people looking to starting their own enterprises rather than hoping to land a job in Government or one of its agencies.

Retooling and retraining will mean not only preparation for blue collar jobs, but for some of the expanding opportunities in industry, commerce, agriculture and the services sector.

Most of the retooling and retraining will have to be done at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI), the Skills Training programme and to a lesser extent, the Barbados Community College.

But not everything is in sync.

Take what’s happening at the SJPI. Imagine that someone wants to be retooled or simply trained to do one of the following: electrical wiring, electrical installation, air-conditioning or auto-body repair.

What starts out as encouraging talk from the political directorate will soon turn to despair and frustration for many a would-be candidate.

Electrical wiring is $1 588 per semester for two semesters; electrical installation I is $1 790 per semester for two semesters; electrical installation II is $2 145 per semester for two semesters; and air-conditioning I is $ $1 343 per semester for two semesters while air-conditioning II is $2 450 per semester for two semesters.

At those prices, many people will not even make an effort, far less apply and then be turned away.

How much is it costing a Barbadian student to attend any of the University of the West Indies campuses to gain a degree, to come back and depend on a job in Government or at one of its agencies?

Retooling and retraining may turn out to be pure talk and lip service. (ES)

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