Government is seeking to upgrade the technical skills capacity available in Barbados, particularly in the areas of the blue economy.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, said while Barbados’ sea space was 400 times greater than its land space, the island lacked the technical skills needed in that area. He made these comments during a product launch by the Eco Construction and Waterproofing Technologies at the Accra Beach Hotel today.
The Minister said that conversations were ongoing about expanding Barbados’ Port and building a massive cruise terminal; using the sea to generate energy and deepening the island’s oil and gas exploration offshore. He added that the Coastal Zone Management Unit had produced a list of areas that could be worked on in the new maritime industry.
“But what troubles me is that when we are having these conversations, we have had to buy in skills. I think we need to get to the point where we have those skills,” he said, while not discounting the need for using outside expertise.
“We are talking about coastal excavation, marine engineering, further than Barbados has gone in the past. While some of the skills may be here, the bulk is not here. We have had to bring in people in the past to deal with these issues,” he said.
Minister Humphrey suggested that in situations where persons are brought in to work in specialised areas, they should be attached to a local company, where they can pass on the skills. “We have to be able to build up the capacity of Barbadians to deal with things that affect Barbadians,” Mr. Humphrey contended.
He added that within a two to three-year time frame, Barbados should not still be bringing in those skills if Government played a role in assisting with the training of people. “Help us to work together as a team, as a partnership. That is where Barbados needs to go… I don’t want Barbados to bounce back; I believe Barbados has to bounce forward,” he said, noting that the island was in a position where it had to make some tough decisions.
However, the Maritime Minister said that the country still had an abundance of resources, in terms of its human capital and the capacity to be resilient and innovative. “The difference is that we intend to find a way to unlock those resources to be able to make a difference for this country and in this country,” he said.
He called on all those present to be a part of the difference that must be made in Barbados, and come to the table and have conversations with Government about how they could assist. “This is the time when everybody has to do something for this country,” he stated.