By Marion Ali
The Government, through the Ministry of Energy Science and Technology, will introduce a multi-million-dollar IT training program in October with help from the Korean government.
This project is expected to boost the economy because, according to Senator Joy Grant, information coming from the public service and the private sector is that there is a shortage of skilled persons in Belize.
The idea is to offer advanced training in science, technology, engineering and math at a soon-to-be constructed institute.
Grant said that after doing research her ministry decided to partner with organizations locally and abroad to offer top-of-the-line training in these specialised fields.
The minister added that she has approached the University of Belize and Galen University, both of which support the concept.
The institute, explained Grant, would operate also as a contracting agency to allow companies and other entities to pay for services rendered.
She used pharmaceutical testing as one of those possibilities.
To meet Belize’s priority areas, experts from Korea will be intimately involved in the project; and the ministry and the experts will come up with a plan to present to the public and private sectors.
Subsequently, the institute will be constructed, likely on one of the UB campuses, and will be outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment for training and contracted work.
The introduction of this new field of advanced study is expected to produce more qualified persons in those areas where there is a noted shortage of experts.
That shortage became evident during a survey that the government conducted at a recent business forum.
The Government also intends to develop a training center that will specialize in training persons with the relevant skills for the rapidly growing Business Process Outsourcing industry.
That sector already employs 2,600 persons at the various call centres countrywide, but according to Prime Minister Barrow, there is a demand for even for more workers in that field.
CEO in the Ministry of Trade and Investment Mike Singh said that the sector can also fill employment needs in the tourism industry and various enterprises.
Prime Minister Barrow explained that the government will, beginning October 1, this year train the first cohort of 100 persons and will follow through with a similar number each month for two years until 2,000 persons have been trained for the jobs that await them in that field.
Those who train will be charged $50 and the training will take place at the ITVET building on Freetown Road in Belize City.
Meanwhile, the survey revealed that business peoples’ perception of Belize’s business climate is on a gradual turn for the better.
Singh shared that 51 percent of the people surveyed expect that they will either break even or make a small profit; 33 percent expect a relatively profitable year; 6.17 percent expect a very profitable year.
The survey showed that only 7.41 percent expect to have a relatively large loss, and 1.3 percent expect a very large loss.
In terms of growth potential, Singh shared that 47.56 percent of those interviewed expect their business to experience a modest growth; 31 percent expect it to remain the same; 10 percent expect a substantial growth; and eight percent expect a decline in business. This, he says, indicates that there has been a “turn” in the economy since people are seeing an increase in profits.
The poll was conducted at this year’s business forum between the private and public sectors.
Singh added that two negatives revealed by the survey included a shortage of qualified persons and taxes which many said were burdensome.