Barbadians encouraged to adapt to technology to avoid falling behind the rest of the world
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS — Jobseekers and entrepreneurs in Barbados are again being urged to go digital to find job opportunities both at home and abroad in today’s increasingly digital world.
Barbadian Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Ryan Straughn was among the latest to make this call, urging citizens and residents to embrace technology or fall behind.
“It is important that people understand how to use the technology, not to fear it, [and] recognize that we must go with the flow, so to speak, and not be left behind,” he said.
Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in unprecedented instances of remote work and made more people shift to performing everyday tasks like buying groceries online in an effort to stay safe at home as much as possible, regional experts have been urging Caribbean people to embrace the digital economy.
Many brick-and-mortar stores that failed to effectively operate online during the pandemic wound up going out of business, while informal workers who relied on doing business in-person likewise suffered great losses to their main source of income.
In contrast, by operating online, businesses can access clientele not only in their own home country but throughout the world.
Likewise, Caribbean jobseekers can even work remotely for international companies while still living in and economically contributing to their homeland.
To this end, Minister Straughn underscored the need for Barbadians to commit to lifelong learning in order to keep up with advancements in technology “because that is what is going to keep small island developing states competitive.”
Technology could address informal jobs in Barbados
Calling attention to a crucial challenge not just in Barbados but throughout the Caribbean, the minister acknowledged the large number of people engaged in the informal economy.
He said he believes greater digitalization could help to address the issue.
Informal jobs are those that are not regulated, monitored or taxed, and which likewise lack the kind of worker protections that a formal job has.
During and following the pandemic, job informality skyrocketed in the Caribbean.
By now, the high rates have gotten to the point where several major international organizations have begun calling for regional governing bodies to take urgent action to address it.
Straughn said, “The reality is that the platforms now need to be spread rapidly across the Caribbean to be able to bring the informality more into a formal spectrum.
“So in Barbados, we welcome these types of interventions because we believe that whether you are a coconut vendor, someone on Swan Street, whether you are a restaurateur, someone selling food, vending or any business for that matter, these platforms allow people to interact with you [and allow you] to do business faster in order to unlock significant growth.”