A leading trade unionist has called for the creation of a tripartite National Productivity Council, arguing that the Bahamian education was “designed for students to fail”.
Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson, the National Congress of Trade Unions (NCTUB) general secretary, added that a lack of parental/family support was combining with the education system’s failings to create workforce ‘skills gaps’ that were undermining the economy.
A panellist at a Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) discussion on the country’s skills gaps, and how these could be eliminated, Mrs Isaacs-Dotson said the Chamber, the unions and government should work together to establish the National Productivity Council.
Describing this as a vision of the late trade union leader, Pat Bain, she added: “The unions and the BCCEC must work together to recognise the challenges that workers and employees face in the workplace.
“We must all
work together and ensure that a tripartite Bahamas National Productivity Council is established. This is a project that the NCTUB and the BCCEC can work on to promote productivity.
“We don’t have a productivity council and, when you look at countries like Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad, they all have productivity councils, where they are able to measure productivity. The trade unions have led discussions with the Government in the past on developing a productivity council.”
Mrs Isaacs-Dotson added that while there are many skilled workers in the workforce, there are many others who lack the necessary attributes.
“Many don’t possess soft skills, don’t have any idea of time and believe that they shouldn’t come to work because they had rough weekend. This is the reality of what we are working with, whether we like it or not. They have no respect for a job,” Mrs Isaacs-Dotson said.
“We have a generation of workers unable to adapt, perform under pressure, have no work ethic, cannot manage time, do not think positively of themselves or others, cannot be a part of a team, cannot solve problems, lack self-confidence, cannot take or give criticism, are inflexible and lack communication skills.
“We must trace the root of this problem, I trace it back to the family, where we obviously have failed to develop our children into productive Bahamian citizens by not providing them with basic values, morals, standards and basic education, where they have literacy and numeracy skills or the ability to resolve conflicts, as well as build and maintain healthy relationships. We must make parents accountable for their children. They should take responsibility or suffer the consequences.”
Mrs Isaacs-Dotson said the lack of support at the family level is compounded by an education system “designed for our students to fail”.
“Students are socially promoted without having the basic literacy and numeracy skills, and many leave school with a leaving certificate, meaning that they have not obtained a 2.0 grade point average or C average, or they graduate being illiterate,” she added.
“Our classes are too large for one teacher at all levels, and we have crammed too many subjects into the timetable of our students, particularly those who are at risk or special needs. We must design an educational system that meets the needs of the the Bahamian students.”