Barbadians seeking to take advantage of the offerings of the blue economy will soon be better equipped to do so as Government seeks to upgrade the technical skills capacity available in this area.
This revelation came from Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey, who lamented that while Barbados’ sea space was 400 times greater than its land space, the island lacked the technical skills needed in that area.
“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 during a product launch by the Eco Construction and Waterproofing Technologies at the Accra Beach Hotel today.
Humphrey pointed out 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. However, he explained that even though plans were in the pipeline for such projects, the skill sets were not readily available locally.
“What troubles me is that when we are having these conversations, we have had to buy in skills. We need to get to the point where we have those skills,” he said, while not discounting the use of outside expertise.
The Minister 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,” Humphrey contended.
He added that within two to three years, Barbados should not still be bringing in those skills if Government helped to train 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, stressing that the island had to make some tough decisions.
On the bright side, the Maritime Minister noted that the country has an abundance of resources in its human capital and the capacity to be resilient and innovative, which must be unlocked to fill the needs of a burgeoning blue economy.
He called on all present to be a part of the difference that must be made in Barbados, to 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.