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A VIEW BEYOND THE HORIZON

THE BVI MUST PRESERVE AND PRIORITISE THE ETHIC OF DISCIPLINE, INTEGRITY, AND EXCELLENCE

comprehensive, here are two policy examples that could be easily changed as a result of a gap assessment:

Excellence doesn’t come about by accident, but it isn’t rocket science either. The values instilled by generations of elders have been proven true, over and over again, across peoples, classes, and cultures. A quick look at the BVI’s marine industry is useful as a lens to illustrate the foregoing points and the various ways government policy can be used in the service of building capacity.

• Where needs are being met by nonBVIslander workers, training contract requirements for businesses can be introduced.

It’s fair to say that the marine industry was a precursor to and spur for the financial services industry. The BVI’s long tradition of sailing, fishing, and watersports keeps the marine industry lucrative. The industry serves visitors, locals, and residents, alike, and local talent appears to be plentiful. However, one can observe that relatively few BVIslanders maintain ownership or key positions in the industry. A tradition of protectionism around culturally significant industries, such as the marine industry, is often seen as a means of redressing the imbalance. However, here we often see a perverse effect that BVIslanders are noted as partners in a business but in reality they have little participation in the operation. One change that could be made to increase local opportunity and grow the marine industry is to address certification roadblocks. For liability reasons, no maritime business can afford to allow uncertified persons as captains or first mates on vessels, no matter how talented they may be. BVIslanders’ access to certification programs for maritime credentials and related areas is definitely an obstacle. To address this impediment, program scholarships at the college could be increased and international certification agencies could run recurrent programs in the BVI, including training BVIslanders to establish and lead (and own) local certification programs. While certification is a first step, it is no guarantee of access to key industry positions, upward mobility, or capital. Again, Labour and Immigration along with the Trade Department could provide data on ownership and employment in the industry to policy makers. Such data would allow Government to conduct a gap assessment and identify where and how BVIslanders can be trained to fill those gaps. While by no means

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• Where gaps remain, Government can source startup capital to enable BVIslanders to enter and compete in the industry. Of course, such changes would require strong mentors who understand the industry, the position of BVIslanders within it, and what they need to succeed. But working to advance policies and programs that foster excellence at all levels, from policy makers to participants, present an ideal opportunity for community-government cooperation which could build and diversify the BVI economy, while strengthening local capacity. Although these examples are based on the marine industry, they can be applied to a wide range of existing or new industries, with appropriate modifications for nuances. How might Government apply the gap assessment, policy interventions, and a culture of excellence in tourism or financial and legal services? What about agriculture, transportation, trades, and home services, such as joinery, carpentry, smart home connection, landscaping, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and cleaning services? Or renewable energy? Technology? When viewing BVI’s prospects for economic development, the horizon looks endless. Change simply needs vision and proactive, intelligent management to ensure it is implemented and adopted. How the Territory chooses to take hold of advantages and act on opportunities, will make a world of difference in its ability to race against the headwinds. INVEST IN INFRASTRUCTURE

Given the myriad infrastructure challenges in a post-Irma environment, both short and long term planning should be considered urgent. In the short term, basic needs must be addressed, but not to the exclusion of long-term goals. To keep pace in the global economy, Government must lead in creating a first rate infrastructure strategy that considers all aspects of industry, transportation, buildings, health and human services, and importantly, people. Until robots

rule the world, human capital remains a valuable asset and part of a country’s infrastructure. Roles may change and new technologies may require people to adapt in unforeseen ways, but essentially, countries that understand the importance of nurturing and growing their human capital tend to succeed, greatly. EDUCATION

Experiments with the BVI educational system over the past few years, such as the greater emphasis on Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) external examinations, have confirmed that the country has students who can compete with the best in the region and, therefore, the best in the world. However, that level of performance needs to be replicated, broadly. BVI school infrastructure—buildings, educators, technologies, and systems— need constant attention in order to meet (or exceed!) evolving standards. However, a more immediate need stands in the way. Many BVI children and young people are still attending classes in make-shift structures on half-day schedules since the hurricanes of 2017. To compete at world-class levels in any economy or industry, a country cannot devalue the instructional needs of its children and young adults. Information technology used in advanced educational systems that are needed to foster achievement and excellence cannot be installed in tent schools. Beyond rebuilding damaged schools or building state of the art new schools, changes to systemic infrastructure also could be re-envisioned. The introduction of CXC shows that it is beneficial to look beyond our shores for successful models. While it has become almost second nature to look at systems in the United States, the most recent Global Education Survey, which assesses education in 72 countries from a wide range of economies every three years, finds that Singapore is the top performing country. The core component of the survey tests 15-year-olds for establishing the basics of what every child should know before leaving school. In Canada, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Macao (China), Singapore, and Viet Nam, nine out of every 10 students have mastered those basics. (All volumes of the reports are freely available to read online.[2]) Modern educators now know that successful educational systems are engineered to foster the natural curiosity of students, their capacity for innovation, their ability to solve problems, and an understanding of how their lives relate to their communities, their country, and the world. To advance, the BVI will require top-flight educators in sufficient numbers who are

Profile for Business BVI

Business BVI July 2019  

The theme for the July 2019 edition is ‘A View Beyond the Horizon’, which is intended to reflect where the territory is post 2017, while at...

Business BVI July 2019  

The theme for the July 2019 edition is ‘A View Beyond the Horizon’, which is intended to reflect where the territory is post 2017, while at...

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