An economist has recommended that the curriculum at the primary, secondary and tertiary education levels be altered to accommodate innovation.Indera Sagewan-Alli, executive director of the Caribbean Centre for Competitiveness, is however cautioning against making changes in an isolated manner.She said a goal must first be identified so that the curriculum can be altered to achieve that goal.
In the keynote address at the media launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week at the Sir Frank Chapman Hospitality Suite, Queen's Park Oval, yesterday, Sagewan-Alli was critical of T&T's education system."If we want a different expectation from our graduates then I say we have to set the required goals at the outset," she said.
"To illustrate, you cannot train persons to find a job in the labour market and at the end of the training, say go forth be creative be innovative, be an entrepreneur, start a business, when the training he received did not prepare him for such action."Sagewan-Alli said there is need to teach society how to take risks in a managed way, since we are not all natural risk takers.
She explained: "Of the total SMEs in T&T 75 per cent are micro enterprises. Unfortunately we are not doing enough to grow this important business sector."In T&T only 11 per cent of MSME's start up funding comes from the banking sector, 70 per cent comes from personal savings."She said the high interest rates offered by banks and financial institutions prevents some start-ups from getting financing for their businesses.
Administration after administration has come and gone and none has put enough measures in place to stimulate innovation, she said, adding that there has been no intervention even as the Caricom level.
Quoting from a UWI economist Sagewan-Alli said: "Courtesy state intervention in the labour market, we boast of an official unemployment rate in T&T of approximately four per cent, notwithstanding youth unemployment and under employment is closer to 20 per cent and female unemployment even higher.
"Of the 6000-plus persons in the labour force, approximately 200,000 are employed in government make work programmes. In Cepep and URP alone 100,000 persons."She blamed the fortunes of oil and gas for the labour situation T&T now faces.
"I am bemoaning those who we put to govern on our behalf to put us on a path of sustainable development who have failed to use the resources to do so," she said.