As part of the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development and Religious Affairs’ Curriculum Awareness Activities, which began on 9 April 9, the ministry held a Round Table Discussion with industry stakeholders, on 11 April. This was undertaken to find out how well education, in Grenada, is meeting workforce needs. The feedback was an eye-opener for educators.
Stanford Simon, owner of One Call Construction Company, noted that because the education system is not producing sufficient persons with the skills needed in the area of construction, labour now has to be out sourced from places like Guyana. This, he says, is costing the country. “I think we’re losing 100 million dollars easily, in terms of productivity and what we can achieve as a nation,” Simon said. However, he is optimistic that with more investment in skills training, this can be addressed. “If the Government finds 10 million dollars and builds at least one skills centre to start – that is a big step and I think it would put us in a better position in 10 to 15 years from now,” he said. Simon cited additional critical issues affecting the employability of workers, such as a lack of timeliness, leadership skills and a failure to take initiative.
Raphael Sylvester, Manager of La Sagesse Natural Works, a food service business, thinks food preparation is an area in which Grenada can lead, but the skill deficit is holding us back due to a shortage of trained cooks.
According to Sylvester, “We need to have persons carefully analysing the situation we are in now to see how best we can improve on it.”
Rev Thomas Welch highlighted the need for history to be a more central component of education, instead of it being an optional subject that a student can drop early in his, or her, school life.
“I was appalled that history is dropped so early. So, we could be building young people in our country, who don’t even understand what is our role within the global environment and how history impacted us. Where are we going, if we don’t understand where we came from?”
Meanwhile, the Human Resource Manager for IGA Real Value Supermarket, Shanica Gilbert, spoke on the lack of adequate mathematical, comprehension and interview skills among applicants. Gilbert said, “Having the option of doing math, or not doing math, is not working very well for the business industry, because too many students are opting not to do it and at the business industry we are requiring students to have Mathematics, based on the jobs that we’re offering.”
She also noted the significant high school drop-out rate among many applicants, particularly females, whose school life ended prematurely in forms four or five.
“There are way too many students who are dropping out of school, because their parents cannot afford to send them to school and they’re missing out on a huge opportunity to actually develop themselves and get ready for the job market,” Gilbert said.
Deputy Chief Education Officer, for Curriculum, Maria Viechweg explained what the ministry’s approach will be to the issues discussed. “We now need to go back to the drawing board and devise strategies and methods to deal with these problems,” she said. Viechweg added that, “Going forward the ministry will have some more discussions and stakeholder meetings as we plan to make an intervention, into this problem.”
Additionally, the Minister for Education, Human Resource Development and Religious Affairs, Hon Emmalin Pierre, along with Hon Pamela Moses, Minister with responsibility for Tertiary Education, Skills Development and Education Outreach, and the Chief Education Officer, Elvis Morain, are currently meeting with a wide spectrum of stakeholders in an effort to determine the precise educational areas requiring strengthening and development. Following this process, plans for the way forward and strategies to address current needs will be finalised.
Ministry of Education