By Janelle S. Harewood Systems Network Administrator of the Barbados Vocational Training Board T he COVID-19 pandemic has arguably been the most disruptive occurrence of this working generation, most notably because of sickness and death but also heralding simultaneous recessions across the globe, unprecedented levels of unemployment, shuttering several businesses permanently, and disrupting the educational plans of many. Let us think, has it been all bad news for organisations? If we look at the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, can we find any good in the resiliency of those organisations willing to embrace major change in their day-to-day procedures? Let’s examine the technological impact of this major event of 2020 on one local, longstanding training institution; the implications for its survival and the conditions necessary for it to thrive. Janelle S. Harewood The Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB) is a training institution established in 1979 with an emphasis on vocational education and training. The BVTB aims to produce graduates who are capable on Day One in whatever trade they chose to learn; and this applies whether on the job or in a future classroom with the intention of furthering their education. BVTB Vision: To be a vocational training institution delivering world-class programmes driven by a customer-focused commitment to excellence. BVTB Mission: Provide globally-recognised vocational training that empowers graduates to perform competently in the marketplace. The BVTB curricula are generally very hands-on as opposed to the alternative approach where much of the emphasis is on theory with the expectation of learning the practical aspects of the trade on the job. The full-time Skills Training Programme has twenty-nine (29) classes across twenty-four (24) trades; in the part-time Evening Programme there are currently thirty-three (33) courses across twenty-two (22) trade areas; and in the Apprenticeship Programme we oversee training in twelve (12) trades. Training in the Skills Training Programme and Evening Programme is currently conducted at six (6) locations across the island, while staff at the Administrative locations coordinate the teaching and management of students in all programmes. The combination of the hands-on training requirement at the multiple teaching locations and in some cases multiple instructors for the same trade, while providing some benefits for the learner, could prove challenging from an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) perspective. Add to that multiple administration locations and you can see how the coordination of a smooth ICT experience could be, let’s say, a challenging exercise. This is especially so in 2020 – the year the COVID-19 pandemic turned everything on its head. Continues on next page 4

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