by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The CARICOM Secretariat recently launched The CARICOM Skilled Workers Programme, which provides opportunities within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Dr. Carla N. Barnett, Secretary-General of CARICOM, outlined some of the initiative’s details.
“One-week work attachments of border officials in different Member States, to allow for sharing of best practices in the administration of the Free Movement Regime for Skilled Nationals;
placement of CSME Focal Points in the private and public sectors and Regional Institutions for one week. Focal Points will benefit from observing and sharing best practices in operations of the CSME in key areas;
two-week work attachments for secondary school teachers to be exposed to teaching CSME and wider CARICOM integration in the classrooms in other Member States and how best practices can be replicated in their own schools. The attachments will also serve to better inform participants about the qualification framework for the free movement of skills, such as the levels of technical qualifications, skilled national certification, and categories of skills approved for free movement; and
one-week internships for the new cohort of CARICOM Youth Ambassadors (CYAs) at the CARICOM Secretariat to expose them to regional integration processes, so they can become better advocates for regional integration.”
Over the initial two weeks following the launch on March 6 weeks the focus is on teachers with other attachment opportunities will roll out, even with the realities of air transportation in our Region. The launch coincided with a Secondary School Teachers initiative. Nineteen CARICOM teachers were placed on two-week attachments to Secondary Schools in Barbados, Belize, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago from March 6-17, 2023.
However, although efforts are being made to address the intra-regional travel gap, there are still challenges for people moving throughout the region.
“I understand, only too well, the challenges you teachers from St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, and Antigua and Barbuda experienced to arrive in Guyana for your attachments. The story is the same for the other participants simultaneously placed at schools in St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Barbados.”
Regional competitiveness has been a talking point for regional governments for some time. The CARICOM Secretary-Generalsaid, the Skilled Workers Programme, is the efficient and effective operation of the Free Movement of Persons Regime to increase the number of skilled categories eligible for free movement.
“One key preliminary finding is that the major occupational groups of managers, professionals and technicians, and associate professionals are largely covered by various approved categories of skilled Community nationals, namely, university graduates, holders of associate degrees or comparable qualifications, media workers, musicians, artistes, sportspersons, nurses and teachers. There remain various elementary occupations not covered by the approved categories of skilled Community nationals.”
According to Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Barbados, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, CARICOM, and the Caribbean Forum, in her remarks shared that the EU would continue its partnership with the Caribbean region, particularly in support of the CSME, which she said has been proven to be crucial in boosting economic growth.