GOVERNMENT has unveiled a $583 million five-year strategic plan aimed at boosting employment levels, increasing efficiency in the workforce and ultimately alleviating poverty.
The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour will be the driving forces behind the 2011-2016 Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy that will involve both the public and private sectors in a multidimensional approach.
Moreover, to ensure that the plan has teeth and does not only remain on paper, it will require a commitment from all Government ministries and departments in the form of a signed memorandum of understanding, the Human Resource Development Strategy 2011-2016 document outlined.
It will also require changes in legislation pertaining to the Information Act and the Intellectual Property Act.
“This legislation is already at an advanced stage within the drafting process and is expected to be approved by the 2011-2012 financial year,” said the document laid in Parliament last week.
Most of the funding for the ambitious plan is being footed by Government, with assistance from the European Union, the European Development Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and private entities.
The 138-page document points to certain flaws in the educational system and some of the weaknesses in the labour force, and provides for a multipronged approach, including continuous education to keep the island’s workforce ahead of the class.
Among the concerns raised in the document is the downturn in the global economy, rising unemployment – particularly so among men who have failed to pursue higher education.
“The situation is more serious among males. It is also evident that technical and university education do not necessarily guarantee a job; some ten per cent of the unemployed had technical qualifications and 13 per cent had university/college qualifications.”
The document also identified youth unemployment as a “major issue” and that this problem was compounded by a “low status perception of vocational and technical skills by youth”.
Part of Government’s five-year plan then will be to stimulate a stronger interest in vocational training, as well as to put greater emphasis on career guidance in schools.
To this end, partners in the project will include the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, Erdiston College, Barbados Community College and Barbados Institute of Management and Productivity.