Dario's Vision For WorldSkills Barbados

02/15/2017 05:20 PM
WorldSkills Barbados News
Dario Walcott leading judges in their oath

The Technical Delegate leading the Barbados team to WorldSkills International later this year has big plans for developing the WorldSkills Barbados (WSB) Competition and brand.

In fact, Dario Walcott wants that the same way CARIFTA and the Olympic Games are recognised as premiere athletic meets, that Barbadians will see WorldSkills Barbados, along with the WorldSkills Americas and International, as the crème-de-la-crème of competitions for young, skilled professionals.

Described as a technical-skills Olympics, the WorldSkills Competition was introduced to the island in 2012.  Students, ages 16-21, enrolled at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions are entered by their schools to compete in a skill category.

These categories have so far included automotive technology, beauty therapy, culinary arts, garment making and hairdressing; however in 2016 beauty therapy was dropped because no competitors met the criteria.

Over the years, finalists from the Barbados Community College (BCC), Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB), Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP), and the SEMAJ International School of Cosmetology & Trichology, a private institution, have participated in the biennial competition.

In 2016, the third WorldSkills Barbados Competition was held and Dario Walcott played a major role in its execution as Chairman of the Local Organising Committee.

As Technical Delegate, he will lead the winners of that competition to Abu Dhabi in October 2017 to compete in WorldSkills International against scores of countries in Automobile Technology, Cooking, Fashion Technology and Hairdressing.

In discussing his vision for the local competition, Mr. Walcott said if he got his way, he would expand the skill areas.

“I believe expanding the skill areas would assist in raising the level of awareness surrounding the competition because it would mean more institutions would be involved.  I would go beyond traditional skill areas and include Graphic Design, Information Technology, Nursing, Social Care, Restaurant Service, Bar Service,” he said.

“I want to get the University of the West Indies on board, bring back BCC and get other technical and vocational training institutions involved.  For this to work we need the buy-in of TVET stakeholders and all those in the system,” he reasoned.

Mr. Walcott also pointed out that WorldSkills Barbados was helping to improve the standards and image of technical and vocational education and training on the island.

“WorldSkills Barbados is raising an awareness that TVET has value.  It is giving students in this field the opportunity to show they are smart and more than being labeled low achievers, high school drop outs or even juvenile delinquents,” he argued, adding this would also help to bring Barbados’ TVET system in line with the more advanced countries. 

“The competition is based on WorldSkills International standards, so competing institutions have to incorporate aspects of those standards into their curriculum.  BVTB did this with their cooking curriculum. SJPP is now teaching CAD in its Garment programme. So, using the international standards have helped some institutions to enhance their curriculum”, he stated. 

His future plans include taking the WorldSkills Competition to secondary schools. According to Mr. Walcott, Russia had successfully introduced a Junior Skills programme in their schools. 

“I think that technical and vocational education and training needs to be in secondary schools.  That way when students leave, it is easier to move on to the post-secondary level….  We are planning to do a skills competition in the schools but we still need to iron out details. Such a competition would feed straight into the WorldSkills Barbados Competition. It would increase the level and awareness of skills development, incorporate skills at the secondary level and raise the awareness of the TVET system,” he stressed.

Dario also believes that participating in more than one skill area at WorldSkills Americas and WorldSkills International would be advantageous for Barbados.

It would expose the youth to global competition and world-class standards as well as help to broaden their skills. It would also benefit the instructors who serve as experts or judges at the competition and therefore are also exposed to the world-class standards and international networking opportunities. He stated that previous wins at WorldSkills Americas sent the message that the training we have in Barbados was of an international standard.

He noted that even though only one competitor had been taken each time to WorldSkills Americas in 2012 and 2014, the fact that this country won silver and bronze medals, respectively, was proof of our high standard. 

He proudly pointed out that our model was one that others wanted to follow and disclosed that during the 2016 WSB Competition a team from Grenada attended to learn best practices.  (PR/TVET COUNCIL BARBADOS)