BTVI Advancing Workforce Skills

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February 10, 2021

A key policy response advanced by The Bahamas government, has focused on the need to develop more capacity within the labour force; hence, the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) is pushing to achieve several outcomes, inclusive of accelerated trade courses and certifications.

A research paper jointly written by BTVI President, Dr. Robert W. Robertson and Dean of Construction and Workforce Development, Alexander Darville, for a recent publication of the Florida Political Chronicle, outlined efforts of the institution in advancing workforce skills, following the hurricane Dorian-ravaged northern islands, while simultaneously competing in a COVID-19 environment.

“Overall, the development of the skills within the key trade areas will assist in reducing unemployment and having more Bahamians certified and therefore in a positon to participate in the economy in a tangible way as rebuilding efforts take place in the country,” the paper indicated.

The research specified that strategic investment in skills development is timely and can pay significant dividends in the recovery phase of rebuilding the national economy. It further stated that in 2020, the European Commission suggested that the critical post COVID-19 skills will include, but not be limited to technology skills, which is considered to be “indispensable,” digital and coding skills to manage processes and data, adaptability and the ability to understand change and the ability to embrace change, and critical thinking to evaluate data and make informed decisions.

The accelerated trade courses model of shorter courses and programs is expected to enhance retention, graduation and output, while maintaining quality, according to the paper. “The development of the skills within the key trade areas will assist in reducing unemployment and having more Bahamians certified and therefore in a position to participate in the economy in a tangible way, as rebuilding efforts take place in the country,” said the authors.

It was added that with the workforce also having shifted towards online platforms, there is now a reliance on short, specific, job-ready, professionally-certified courses and training. BTVI quickly made the pivot to online education, once the pandemic hit The Bahamas in March 2020. The institution moved 450 courses to the Moodle learning management system within a three-day period. The online courses included case-studies, simulations, videos and Zoom classes.

“BTVI has made tremendous steps in advancing online education. At the onset of the pandemic, approximately 40 mostly IT courses were being delivered in a blended mode and this afforded a template for moving all courses online,” said the paper.

The paper noted that although some classes in the trades are particularly difficult to accommodate, more than 95% of classes across the system continued online. To ensure student success, trade related courses held what was dubbed, “boot camps” of small, face-to-face, hands-on, practical sessions.

The intention has been to use a blended format of the theory component online and the practical component on ground.

BTVI is a certified Cisco Academy and CompTIA award-winning institution for Information Technology leadership in the Caribbean and Latin America. It is also a City & Guilds centre, in addition, the institution is pursuing registration with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), in conjunction with Valencia College in Florida. A NCCER certification facilitates offering accelerated and certified trade courses, which ensure that graduates meet industry standards. Hence the authors expressed that BTVI is uniquely qualified to be an online centre of excellence. In that regard, a Centre for Online and Distance Education was established at the institution in spring 2020.

Key to the institution’s successful online program has been faculty training through the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), in addition to short professional development courses for staff and faculty, packaged as “nano degrees.” The program used Open Education resources and included a number of industry-recognized certifications and badges to assist instructors in becoming more effective in digital classrooms.

The authors concluded that a focus on short, industry-certified courses in the trades - using the NCCER model - is imperative in addressing the skilled worker shortage in The Bahamas, underscoring though that it will take a united effort overtime to close the skills gap and rebuild the country.

News date : 02/10/2021    Category : About Bahamians, Education, Press Releases

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