Preparing Bahamian students for the jobs of the future, today

By Lincoln Deal II

June is always an exciting month as graduation season kicks into full gear. The sounds of cowbells, goat skin drums, horns, and whistles fill the air, resonating with the names of graduates as they are called to receive their diplomas.

Parents, guardians, and well-wishers celebrate not just an ending, but the promising beginning of their children’s futures. But as we venture further into this year, decade, and century, what does that future and promise really look like?

Thousands of students across the Bahamas are graduating high school this month, entering a world full of new opportunities and challenges. This transitional period is crucial, marking the end of one journey and the start of another. As education evolves rapidly, we must ask: how prepared are our students for the future job market?

Last Thursday, I had the honour of delivering the commencement address at the Institute of Science, Business, and Education Technology (ISBET), founded by the late Mitzi Turnquest. During the awards, I was impressed by the certifications in coding, robotics, fintech, cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, and data science, far surpassing the traditional subjects of my time. This shift highlights a key point from my speech: we must equip our students for future jobs.

Right before our eyes, we are witnessing a generational shift among one of the most connected generations. Today’s students are digital natives, growing up in a world where technology is integrated into every aspect of life. While adept at using technology, they must also master creating and managing it.

To achieve this, we need to strengthen our educational systems to align with the jobs of the future. Roles from just five, ten, or 15 years ago are becoming obsolete or automated, while new fields such as artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and biotechnology are emerging, requiring a different set of skills and knowledge. How will we master this new era?

How are we preparing our sixth graders today for new careers in solar and other emerging fields? How are we letting them know they can become solar energy engineers, solar photovoltaic installers, solar storage specialists, and site assessors?

At Eeden Farms, when we began sourcing employees to operate our indoor hydroponic container farms, we quickly realised that our technology was creating new roles such as environmental control technicians, automation and robotics engineers, and agricultural engineers. Historically, these jobs did not exist in agriculture, but technology has now changed that.

Public-private partnership schools worldwide foster innovative environments that prioritize critical thinking and digital literacy from an early age. Finland, for instance, integrates coding into its national curriculum, empowering students to create with technology, not just consume it.

The Bahamas should follow suit, integrating subjects like coding, robotics, and data science into our national curriculum. Partnering with local and international tech firms can offer students internships and practical experience, bridging education and employment gaps.

We must also address the digital divide. Access to technology and the internet is crucial for students to compete in a global economy. Beyond using a computer, they need to understand data analytics, digital marketing, and various digital tools. Ensuring every student has access to these resources should be a national priority.

Looking ahead

The Bahamian job market, like the rest of the world, will undergo significant changes over the next ten years. As global trends shift towards sustainability and technological advancement, we must adapt. Renewable energy, marine biology, and tech sectors will grow rapidly, requiring skilled professionals. Are our students being prepared now?

The Bahamas is uniquely positioned to lead in renewable energy, driving demand for careers such as solar engineers, energy analysts, and wind turbine technicians.

Additionally, given The Bahamas’ rich marine resources and concerns about climate change and ocean health, marine biology and oceanography present promising career paths. Future marine sciences will play a crucial role in ocean conservation and sustainable use of marine resources.

The tech sector will be crucial in the future job market. With fintech, cybersecurity, and data science on the rise, skilled professionals will be in demand. Integrating these subjects into our education system now will prepare Bahamian students for future opportunities.

Tourism, the backbone of our economy, is also evolving. The future of tourism will likely involve a greater emphasis on eco-tourism and tech-driven experiences. Training in these areas will ensure a competitive and innovative workforce.

Engaging parents and communities is key. This fall, my team and I will host the next cohort of students in the Bahamas STEM Academy, a free STEM programme for kids. Such initiatives help to prepare students for a rapidly changing job market.

Preparing our students for future jobs involves updating curriculums, offering hands-on learning, partnering with tech companies, ensuring access to technology, and engaging the community, equipping them with the skills to thrive in a changing world and secure our nation’s future.

Adaptability is key. We must embrace new skills, changes, and strategy shifts. As automation takes over routine tasks, critical thinking and problem-solving become more valuable, shaping analytical thinking and innovation.

As the graduation ceremonies end, the drumbeats fade and the celebratory sounds quiet, the focus shifts to what lies ahead for our young people. Graduation marks the beginning of their career journeys, and we must ensure they are well-prepared for the jobs of the future. The year 2030 is already upon us—are we ready? 



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