Remarks. Ms. K. Anne Thompson. Human Resources Management Specialist. at the. National Career Showcase Media Launch

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1 Remarks by Ms. K. Anne Thompson Human Resources Management Specialist at the National Career Showcase Media Launch University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus School of Graduate Studies St. Michael, Barbados January 23,

2 Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development- Ms Yoland Howard, Members of the Barbados Association of Guidance Counsellors, Sponsors, Members of the Press, ladies and gentlemen. Consistent with its education and training policy, the Caribbean Development Bank continues to support Human Resource Development (HRD) within its Borrowing Member Countries (BMC s) and intends to deepen its investment in accordance with national, regional and global Human Resource Development needs and commitments. We are aware that all Caribbean governments spend substantially on education. The GDP ratio for investment in public education in Borrowing Member Countries (BMC s) is 6% or more. However, in 2012, of the almost 75 million young people worldwide between the ages of 15 and 24 who were unemployed, 14.3% were in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Barbados, while the overall unemployment rate was 11.2 percent in 2011, the youth unemployment rate was more than double that, at 28.9 percent. These situations in large measure resulted from the global economic downturn which caused a significant decrease in the number of job openings available, but were also highly influenced by inadequate relevant preparation, leaving young people without the skills and competencies needed to compete for the jobs available, in the economies of the region. 2

3 Even before the turn of the century there have been programmes within several countries, as well as some regional initiatives, to address youth unemployment in the Caribbean. These include: The Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme in Barbados which was established in 1995 with the goal of promoting youth empowerment and development through the establishment of viable and sustainable micro and small businesses ; The CARICOM Education for Employment (CEFE) programme which focuses on helping countries to develop school programmes that align with the demands of their economies; The OECS Skills for Inclusive Growth programme; and The Barbados Skills for the Future programme. The focus of these programmes and others like them, is multifaceted, with concerns for problem solving, financial acumen, and entrepreneurial development. However despite such projects and programmes as well as reasonably satisfactory pass rates in external exams, there are challenges in the school system that contributes to the issue of youth unemployment, for example: The curriculum is still very academically inclined resulting in the mismatch between school curricula and demands of the economy; 3

4 Inability of the curriculum to address the needs of the range of abilities in the system as the curriculum still appears to be geared towards addressing needs of the high flyers ; High drop-out rates at the secondary level, especially by males who appear not to be in tune with the curriculum being offered; Continuing negative attitudes to technical & vocational education; and Insufficient provision for career counseling to enable students to begin to think about and make early preparation for their identified careers. The Bank recognises the challenges, hence enhancing policy development in education and training and supporting demand-driven work-force development remain strong areas of focus for CDB. The Bank s objective is to support the improvement and expansion of the employability and labour-market participation of young people, through an enhanced and decentralised Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system with strong linkages to the private sector. CDB s interventions, in collaboration with other development partners at the regional level, in the past year, were part of the continued thrust for improving the institutional framework for aligning education and training to labour market needs a deliberate strategy to bridge the skills gap and enhance prospects for employment and entrepreneurship. This thrust will continue, as CDB during the year will be engaged in discussions with a number of BMCs to continue development interventions in TVET and to gain acceptance of its value. 4

5 In addition, in keeping with the strategy to assist BMCs in making education and training more relevant to national development needs, the Bank will promote significant reform of the secondary curriculum; the articulation of National Qualifications Frameworks, and the development of specific structures to enhance instructional quality and student achievement. CDB is also working with BMCs on initiatives such as continuous labour market surveys to determine the demands of economies so that school programmes can be aligned to those needs; to increase the participation and retention of students (particularly boys) in the system; to enhance teacher effectiveness, and to develop skills for lifelong learning. As the education system continues to evolve, it will be necessary for all stakeholders i.e. policy makers, employers, teachers, and students to embrace the opportunities available to transform our societies. The Bank therefore commends the efforts of the Barbados Association of Guidance Counsellors for pioneering the Annual National Career Showcase and is a happy to be a sponsor again this year. We wish you a successful careers showcase and trust that employers, teachers and students will continue to embrace the opportunity presented by this event. 5

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