Vocation and bilingualism will stimulate economy
In order to create jobs and improve the economy, more emphasis must be placed on vocational training in schools to help prepare Bahamians for the marketplace, according to the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) candidate for Fort Charlotte. Andre Rollins, a dentist and entrepreneur by trade, said the economy as it stands isn’t producing new jobs at a rate fast enough to “soak up” the high unemployment.
“There has to be an effort to face the challenges in the business sector,” he told Guardian Business.
“Not having enough people that are qualified is a key problem. We need more highly skilled people so we can do away with the practice of attracting such a high number of workers from the outside.”
However, to do this, a 10-year plan must be instituted to address the educational system in the country, he felt.
Rollins proposed that not all types of education need to be academically based. Rather, a greater emphasis needs to be placed on technical and vocational training so Bahamians can learn more practical skills.
In particular, rather than looking at tourism and financial services, computers and the Internet could be significant avenues of education and jobs for the future.
“I think we have to look at the Internet as a major growth sector,” he said.
“Software programming, computer literacy, data programming … these types of courses should be taught more in schools.”
Computers isn’t the only sector worth pursuing, he pointed out. This is just one example of a practical skill that could be taught more in schools, helping Bahamians to find skilled jobs.
“If we have a plan that identifies where we want to see our economy develop, then we can take the appropriate steps through the educational system,” he added.
“Right now we have people looking for employment without an economy that can keep up with the level of demand.”
Similarly, in keeping with greater vocational training, bilingualism must be promoted to aid global trade.
“There is not enough emphasis on languages, and with the opening up of this country to places in South America and Asia, it will be up to us to identify a second language of focus, or two, so we’re able to conduct trade in a way that provides greater comfort for those to seek to do business with.”
As Bahamians improve their focus in these specific areas, and add to the skilled labor pool, Rollins told Guardian Business that the jobs, investment and growth will follow. The curriculum that raises the level in these areas will cater to big business.
This will lead to easier access to capital, Rollins said, and greater confidence among lending institutions so they know they’re not providing capital.
The current “ad hoc” style of operation in The Bahamas needs focus.
“Where do we want to go?” he asked.
“To stimulate the economy a revamp of education needs to happen for the benefit of the population.”