Acting PCU Programme Director, Junior Burgess speaking to the media while Consultant Research Administrator in the Ministry of Education, Unri Babb (left) and Chairman of Kairi Consultants Ltd., Dr. Ralph Henry (right) look on. (GP)
The Graduate Tracer Survey soon to be conducted under the Skills For The Future Program has been deemed timely by Consultant Research Administrator in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Unri Babb.
Addressing the launch ceremony on Thursday at Infinity on the Beach, Mr. Babb noted that the last tracer study undertaken by the Ministry was in 2000.
He said this 15-year gap meant the Ministry had not been able to evaluate where students had gone into the labour market, and equally, were not able to address the needs of the students.
“Also, it has been quite a while that we have been able to evaluate students’ perceptions of the programmes they have completed and what they believe about the delivery methods. There is a lot of information that needs to be gleaned from them and for us to actually re-craft and create these skills for the future to take the Ministry and our nation forward. So it is [that] we want to position this particular tracer survey within the core context of the programme,” Mr. Babb declared.
According to the Ministry consultant, the survey will be undertaken on those who completed secondary school in 2014. It will also examine the perceptions and career progress of those who left the Barbados Community College (BCC), the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) and the Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB), but only in specific courses related to technical and vocational education.
“[This is] because we want to really evaluate how these students are moving into the labour market; how they are performing; how long does it take them to acquire a job. These are the things that we want to measure and produce metrics [for],” he remarked. Mr. Babb added that the tracer study was one of only five pieces of very critical research being undertaken.
Pointing out that the re-engineered Continuous Labour Market Survey was being conducted by the Barbados Statistical Service, he stressed: “We are also about to embark on an Employer Survey, where we are going to be looking at the skills gap for the employers and also seeing how we need to fill those gaps. Thirdly, we are also looking at guidance and counselling – the way that persons are actually prepared in terms of their career counselling. We are taking a very holistic evaluation of this.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of Kairi Consultants Ltd., the firm contracted to do the survey, Dr. Ralph Henry, noted the frustration experienced by young people who enter the labour market and find that their skills and training do not match what is required by employers.
Explaining further, he said: “Across the region, we have tended to implement programmes and we have committed ourselves as Governments to upgrading our workforce, expanding the opportunities for secondary, post-secondary and tertiary education, without actually looking at the absorption of these graduates into the labour market. That has caused a lot of frustration on the part of a whole number of young people who come out in the labour market and find that their skills and training do not match what is required by employers’ and institutions.
“And, that to some extent also contributes to them looking elsewhere and to this substantial migratory flow that we have had from the region to the rest of the world. We need to retain all of the people whom we retrain and educate because we need a workforce that is highly educated and highly trained to treat with the challenges of the mid-21st century, where skills and knowledge are the critical factors of production and competitiveness.”
The study will look at 1,000 graduates comprising 500 each from secondary schools and the three technical institutions of the BCC, the SJPP and the BVTB.