EDITORIAL: Make better use of technology
In this country’s efforts to grapple with its challenging economic circumstances as well as build a platform on which to record growth and boost job opportunities for its people, some emphasis will have to be placed on making greater and better use of technology.
It is evident that a knowledge-based economy will be critical to our very survival. The application of sciences will be a key component in any such approach.
That is why the efforts of the Caribbean Science Foundation and others who are promoting technology-based entrepreneurship must be given our fullest support. It seems a sure way of creating new, sustainable, high-paying jobs and generating foreign exchange while competing in a demanding and ever-changing global market.
If this initiative is to be realized, then it will necessitate a different attitude and approach from both public and private sector leaders. The role of science and technology will have to take centre stage and not seen as an adjunct to some other programme so that in our planning and priorities process, special emphasis will have to be given as to where we want the sciences to take us as a people and a country.
In the same way various inducements are given to facilitate the growth of certain sectors, so too must a platform be laid for this country to excel and be innovators in an economy driven by the sciences.
Our educators too will have an important role in making this idea a reality, and quickly. There must be greater focus on the training of those teaching the sciences, whether at university or at the teachers’ training college, so that they can better deliver the topics.
Within our schools, from primary to tertiary, more must be done in exposing and ensuring our students understand the importance of sciences in their future career choices. The notion that the sciences are for elite students must be shattered.
It is evident that in today’s world a background in the sciences is needed for the key productive sectors of the economy. This country cannot advance on menial jobs.
We must look to South Korea, Singapore and the Silicon Valley in California or its equivalent anywhere in the world as the examples we want to follow. We cannot compete against Bangladesh, Vietnam or other countries which offer low-paying offshore manufacturing jobs or even the tourism model as employed in the Dominican Republic or Mexico.
We cannot compete based on volume in almost any area but must seek segments which are in demand, whether by corporations or individual consumers. this will require that we operate and deliver to world class standards. The sciences will help Barbados to be different as it seeks to reposition itself.