December 17, 2010
Sector Skills Development Agency Bill passed

Members of the House of Assembly voted in favour – 11 for and 4 against – of a Bill for the establishment of a Sector Skills Development Agency Bill on Tuesday, November 9.{{more}}

Despite some objection by the members of the Opposition, the Bill successfully passed through all the initial stages.

The Bill is for the establishment of a 12-member body which will be responsible for the promotion, assessment, certification and efficient coordination of technical and vocational training in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Girlyn Miguel, Minister of Education, said that the idea for setting up such a body came out of a meeting of the CARICOM Standing Committee Ministers of Education in 1990.

Miguel had indicated that similar bodies had already been set up in the other islands across the region and that the time had come for there to be some sort of formal policy on technical and vocational training.

However, while acknowledging that he had no issue with the functions of the new agency, Arnhim Eustace, Opposition Leader, said that he did not see the need for a separate entity.

“I am of the view that it is possible to do this through the Ministry of Education,” Eustace said, during the debate stage of the process of the passage of the Bill.

“I see already that we are talking about the transfer of officers, so we are going to be using persons from institutions already involved in education.”

“We have the Technical College, School of Nursing, the Centre for Enterprise Development (CED) and ICT training,” he continued.

He further argued that there was insufficient funding to finance the new agency.

“While the objectives are admirable, I have issues with the instrument that is proposed to be used,” the Opposition Leader argued.

“However laudable the goals may be, we are going to find ourselves in a position in the next budget to have to provide for the transfer of funds through a consolidated fund to do the business of this agency,” Eustace said.

He contended that the government was already in a position where they were borrowing money to reduce the debt of government.

Opposition Senator Terrence Ollivierre also made the point that while it was critical for Vincentian artisans to become qualified and certified, he was focussing on the anticipated cost.

He, too, was of the opinion that what was set out in the Skills Development Agency could be done through the Ministry of Education.

However, Minister of Labour René Baptiste, in giving support for the passing of the Bill, said that the time had long passed when it was enough to say an individual has talent.

“That is not good enough,” Baptiste said.

“We are in a millennium where persons need certification to come up to par with what other islands are doing,” she contended. (DD)