NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd underscored the need for The Bahamas, the Ministry of Education, in particular, to focus on Technical Vocational Education as the country suffers from a “serious” shortage of skills in these “critical” disciplines.
Lloyd addressed ‘Technical Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) Day’ at Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) on Thursday.
Students from BTVI and high schools, teachers, administrators and parents participated in the day’s activities which also included a panel discussion on ‘What Employers Look for When Hiring’ and a testimonial by Dimitri Wilson, Container Port/BTVI student. The theme for the event was “The Future of TVET in The Bahamas.”
Lloyd admitted that he is among parents who have shunned this “very important” industry but without technicians, society would come to a halt.
“We do not have enough people going into these professions. The US alone is going to experience 6 million in terms of shortages. Russia and many other countries.” He predicted that by 2030 the world is going to see an almost 100 million job shortage in technical & vocational education.
Lloyd listed several impediments for the success of TVET.
Among them is the belief that those who cannot “do academics” should be transferred. “What nonsense!” said Lloyd.
“This industry is, in fact, the most critical need in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Seventy-five per cent of our students do not go on to college. They go right into the work world and the work world is demanding that when they come, there are skills that they come with.”
A “serious” shortage of teachers in TVET and the need for BTVI to become a tertiary level technical institution are other challenges.
“We need BTVI to become, in addition to what it is now, to become a tertiary level technical school so that you can get advanced certification degrees, and so it can become a place of research in TVET. This is critical for us if we are going to grow this industry.
“A majority of the teachers in the TVET disciplines are foreigners. We need to grow an indigenous cohort of qualified technical vocational educators.”
Lloyd encouraged industry partnership with BTVI.
“They have got to come on board and partner with BTVI and give up some of the time during the day, evening, weekend to assist in matriculating our young people because, if not, this particular discipline called TVET education is going to come to a halt. We are going to have to import the teachers from elsewhere and those countries elsewhere are not letting their teachers go because they need them.”
Kevin Basden, BTVI Chairman, told students not to think they are any less if they choose technical careers.
He told them to consider what is needed in the country – carpenters, electricians, painters, cosmetologists, landscapers and so many more.
“Not only does it allow you to be employed, it allows you to be an employer. You can end up making much more [money] in terms of the technical field than some of the glorified positions,” said Basden.
This article was written by Kathryn Campbell – Bahamas Information Services