Pandemic shows need for skills training


Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings- PHOTO BY MARVIN HAMILTON

THE pandemic has underscored the importance of technical-vocational education and skills training in the development of a country’s economy, and by extension, the global economy.

Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings made this observation on Thursday when he addressed the first-year closing virtual ceremony of the Democratizing Innovation in the Americas (DIA) Youth Innovation Lab TT at the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) for Enterprise Development.

“The pandemic made clear the dire need for an injection of technical-vocational and skills training to bolster the global economy,” he said.

Cummings said this is why the ministry continues to take “very serious measures” to support and create opportunities to expand this country’s employable youth cohort, and improve the quality of employable youths in the rapidly evolving job market.

He said he was pleased that 250 people between 16 and 30 benefited from the courses by the Carapichaima-based lab – the only kind in the country – which began last year. These include entrepreneurship, innovation, life skills, financial literacy and digital literacy.

Describing this as a positive step, the minister called for more emphasis on entrepreneurship and enterprise development as this can benefit Trinidad and Tobago’s 550,000 young people.

The ministry, he continued, will soon partner with the MIC Institute of Technology’s short courses unit to facilitate the second intake of students for MIC’s skills for a diversified and technological economy programme.

Under this programme, students between 16 and 25 can learn web design, coding and mobile app development skills.

Citibank TT Ltd country officer Mitch De Silva, CARIRI director Stephan Gift and National Social Development Program (NSDP) director Patricia De Leon Henry shared Cummings’ views.

De Silva said, “If we invest in our youth, we invest in our future leadership.”

Gift said the programs offered by the lab gave young people the exposure they need to learn new skills.

De Leon said the Social Development and Family Services Ministry, under which the NSDP falls, continues to work with other stakeholders to develop initiatives that could benefit young people.

Youth entrepreneur Joshua Regrello said entrepreneurs always needed to be ready for adversity.

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