Bridging Skills Gap in the Caribbean
Schoolderman, Ruurd; Bicer, Bulent; Valencia J., Adriana M.
The growing demand for sustainable energy drives the need for a local workforce to fulfill the demand for experienced and skilled technicians and professionals at various levels, who are capable of designing, developing, installing, operating, advising about, maintaining, and managing the aforementioned energy related systems. Many Caribbean countries have goals to diversify their energy matrices (to reduce fossil fuel dependency and comply with Intended Nationally Determined Contributions). In addition, it is expected that increased training and education in information and communication technologies (ICT) is crucial, as ICT skills are particularly important for the development of a “green” and “smart” economy. Evidence suggests that low skills in the workforce make it difficult for firms to innovate. In the Caribbean, the private sector has reported weak linkages with universities and difficulties in collaboration with research institutions and other companies. Limited collaboration and integration therefore, negatively impacts innovation and reduces opportunities for co-creation and knowledge dissemination. As new technologies emerge, so do new business opportunities, driving the need for supporting entrepreneurship both for small businesses and medium and larger organizations that need to innovate their business models to adapt to a changing business environment. To contribute and address the above needs, the BRIDGE Program was launched in May 2014 and concluded in June 2017. The program focused on the development of human capital, while encouraging gender equality in order to meet the expected future demand for technicians, professionals and entrepreneurs in the sustainable energy (SE) and ICT sectors. The program covered Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago and this publication reports on the findings, achievements, and remaining needs.