T&T cannot hire the doctors the country spent $millions to train.
This was the contention of Dr Lovell Francis, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, during an address on Monday as YTEPP Ltd and bpTT launched its Entrepreneurial Development Programme at the Kapok Hotel, Port-of-Spain.
Francis said T&T’s skewed education system focuses on academics rather than skill development and as a result has created a high number of people trained in one hemisphere of the education process.
He said the whole system is lopsided while at the same time data from the various government ministries show that all growth areas are skilled based.
“We have too many grammar school people that we have no space for, and then when you look at the needs of the nation, because education should be tied to what the nation needs and what it really wants to develop. When you look at the skills training side we hardly have anybody,” the minister said.
Francis said industries that would have been successful in the past are now slowly dying because of a shortage of skilled labour.
He cited the example of the shortage of joiners in his constituency. “They can’t find joiners to keep the furniture industry going. We have reached the point where in this country we have to import skilled labour to produce furniture,” he said.
Francis said skills training and entrepreneurship are important tools for diversifying the economy. He said the talk of diversification has been going on for a long time and nothing substantial has been done.
“Long time ago, half a million years ago it was sugar, then we discovered this thing called oil and we kinda rode that wave. We have come to a point now where we have to get real, we have to reconceptualise, or we really going nowhere, because oil and gas are not a renewable resource,” he said.