Skills gap affect economies around the world

BTVI President, Robert Robertson.

Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) has a 50 per cent graduation rate, which according to the school president Robert Robertson, has led to a skills gap among workers in different trades.

In a recent telephone interview with Eyewitness News Online, he said, “There is a real skills gap in The Bahamas with respect to technical training, which is an international trend.”

Welding, construction, carpentry, electrical and air condition services, are all trade professions that are lacking skilled professionals, according to Robertson.

The Bahamas is not alone however, when it comes to the void of certified people for trade industry work.

“There is a similar trend in Canada, the United States and Europe,” according to Robertson, who said, are “all experiencing skills gaps in their economies.  It’s exacerbated here by virtue of the fact that we’re a relatively small country and we have some big construction projects that is going on.”

Due to the industry demand, the educator said, BTVI has encountered challenges keeping students enrolled, as they are often scouted by companies needing their skills before they complete their skills certification.

“At BTVI we tend to have a problem keeping students. Companies will come in and take students who have not finished their programs, which is really good for the student, as they get to make money. But ultimately, it limits the true potential of that student having not finish their training,” the educator pointed out.

Robertson’s sentiments are that the government and businesses should do more in assisting aspiring newly trained people with jobs to match their new skills.

More often than not, he said, maintenance work for jobs previously completed guarantees those students more work, which makes it even less likely for them to return to the classroom.

“In general, the population is aging in different countries and as that happens, good certified Bahamians will be hired to work in the United States, Canada and other parts of the world, which will further make the economy worse in The Bahamas.

“It doesn’t help The Bahamas much if people recruit skilled workers, the best and the brightest, to work for their company.

“Welding, electrical, plumbing, carpentry in these trade areas, the existing buildings tend to deteriorate over time and skilled workers are needed for that as well, not just new construction projects.”

Although the dropout rate is in the 50 percent range, Robertson said, some students have returned to complete their degrees.

He suggested a work study partnership between companies that intent to utilize trade workers to ensure they at least complete their skills certification.

“It’s to the benefit of the company to think long term about picking the right people, but then, keeping them by helping them upgrade and finish their certificate,” the BTVI’s president strongly suggested.