A panel of industry leaders claimed that The Bahamas is “desperate” for bright, driven young professionals, while highlighting opportunities within underdeveloped sectors.
“The country has the right to expect more from you,” stated businessman Franklyn Wilson of young Bahamians, while encouraging them to take advantage of entrepreneurship and overlapping opportunities within the tourism, services, and agriculture industries.
The panel, organized by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) Organization of Young Professionals (OYP) division as part of its “Opportunities for Business” series, consisted of Assistant General Manager of the Bahamas Agricultural Industrial Corporation (BAIC) Arnold Dorsett; Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Senior Vice-president Vaughn Roberts; businessman Franklyn Wilson, and BCCEC Chairman Robert Myers.
It was held on Wednesday evening at The College of The Bahamas.
“I’ve never seen a Bahamas more integrated, less concerned about color, sex, and religion. We in business are desperate for bright, hardworking people,” said Myers, stressing that the opportunities for individual employment and national growth are present, but education remains a major concern.
Myers outlined the efforts of the BCCEC to establish a Chamber Campus, which would provide career and business development programs to Bahamians in an effort to close the educational gap.
“There are so many people out there, but they’re underskilled,” said Myers. “Part of the idea of the Chamber Campus is to look at how we’re doing business today, and weave the business community into the fabric of education and provide opportunities.
“The only way to do that is to drag the private sector into education. The educational sector has to be a bit more understanding that we might actually know a little bit more about what we do than the educational system does, and not be so defensive. You’ve got to get this crossover in vocational education.”
Both Roberts and Myers addressed the potential within services and tourism. “The service sector is wide open,” said Myers. “When Baha Mar opens, they’re going to be screaming for people to come in and do a good job on any number of those services that are going to be required to keep that place at a high standard.”
Pointing to opportunities in agriculture, Dorsett said there is a need to “marry agriculture with tourism in a meaningful way,” through promoting locally-grown produce and locally-reared livestock. Dorsett cited the Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) as a positive development for agricultural education. Wilson similarly called for renewed efforts in agriculture, claiming that, “production in agriculture had decreased to one-tenth of what it was around the time of independence.”
Keshelle Kerr, executive director of the Chamber Institute, said that demand for the institute’s programs had increased substantially in the past six months, particularly in the e-learning platform. Kerr attributed the success of the online platform to its convenience, saying that many professionals lacked the time to attend traditional classes.
The online courses, provided by Canadian company Velsoft, offer single courses for career and corporate development. However, Kerr claimed that the Chamber Institute is “moving towards bundling those courses and attaching them to certification programs,” along with partnering with international accreditation institutes to add credibility to the program.
In other updates on BCCEC’s efforts to promote business in the country, Myers added that the BCCEC is in the early stages of developing an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) division that will allow chamber members, “to settle disputes through conciliation, mediation or arbitration [through] significantly lower costs and faster time periods than litigation.”
The chamber also discussed a value-added tax (VAT) implementation committee to provide advice for business owners, which it hopes will be operational in eight weeks.
The Nassau Guardian
Published: June 27, 2014