Market Region as Safe Haven – Business Leader

(Photo via OECS)

Given its success in managing and containing the novel coronavirus, a CARICOM business leader has recommended marketing the Region as a safe haven during a pandemic.

Mr. Wayne Chen raised what he described as a controversial idea during a virtual discussion last month that focused on jobs, work and opportunities in a post- COVID-19 Caribbean.

Held on 27 May, the Digital Dialogue was the second virtual event that the CARICOM Girls in ICT Partnership hosted so far for this year. Mr. Chen was the featured speaker.

According to Mr. Chen, the brand of Caribbean countries as “safe havens” has been enhanced when comparisons are drawn between the Region’s experience with the pandemic and what has occurred in “richer” countries in the North and in Europe.

“The Caribbean has shone in the pandemic because of our ability to deliver healthcare at a reasonable cost to all of our citizens, and it has certainly shone in terms of its management of the pandemic…In the future, we should be marketing ourselves as the best places to be in the event of a future pandemic,” he said.

He cautioned against losing the brand and recommended that it should be a subtle part of the strategy when the Region markets itself as a retirement haven.

Mr. Chen made the recommendation as he pointed to other sectors that could present new employment opportunities and help to wean the Region off of its heavy dependence on tourism. He referred to agriculture, the global services sector, the creative industries, and the green and blue economies where new types of jobs could be created in the post-COVID 19 environment.

Referring to the creative economy, Mr. Chen said that for a Region that was known for producing rich talent, it was currently underperforming and provided “terrific opportunities”.

Mr. Andre Lewis, President of the Caribbean Congress of Labour and Ms. Samantha Sheoprashad were the other discussants during the almost three-hour session that drew participation from across the Caribbean and further afield. Discussions ranged from the equality in the workplace to the pursuit of internet access as a human right, and education that is tailored and strategic.

Ms. Helen Royer, Director, Human Development at the CARICOM Secretariat delivered opening remarks at the session that was moderated by Dr. Laurette Bristol, Programme Manager, Human Resource Development at the CARICOM Secretariat. Ms Patricia McPherson, Deputy Programme Manager, Education, CARICOM Secretariat, introduced the featured speaker.

The Dialogue was the second in a series that the CARICOM Girls in ICT Partnership is organizing. The CARICOM Girls in ICT Partnership held its first Dialogue on 23 April to mark International Girls in ICT Day 2020. That session was held under the theme ‘Regional Resilience of ICT, STEM and Youth’. The featured speaker was Barbara Reynolds PhD. The Partnership is planning another session for July that will focus on youth. The final session later in the year will zero in on teachers and how they can be re-skilled and re-equipped.

The Partnership aims to develop policy by 2021 which will support four stakeholder groups: Students/ parents; Teachers; Employers; and Academia. Specifically, the Partnership seeks to examine inequity and means to bridge that divide; challenge perceptions regarding male and female participation in STEM, and by extension, ICT; develop coherence in the sector and at the same time build and leverage partnerships in the ICT Sector across the Caribbean Community.

The Partnership comprises Ministries of ICT, Youth, Education and Gender in CARICOM Member States and Associate Members, and regional and international organisations. Those organisations are: Guyana Animation Network (GAN) Inc, European Union – Guyana, STEM Guyana, Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC) – Guyana, Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), University of Guyana, University of the West Indies, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), CARICOM Youth Ambassadors corp. (CYAP), Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organization (CANTO), and Caribbean Cybersecurity Centre (CCSC).

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