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Recently, the Ministry for Education announced further emphasis and priority being given to "Tech-Voc" (technical and vocational) programs in our schools. Great news! Dominica also needs to ratchet up the programs' STATUS so that they become appealing and APPRECIATED even as a FIRST CHOICE – ahead of yet more doctors and lawyers! One way to achieve this is bestowing AWARDS and high-level SCHOLARSHIPS in this important area. Some years I suggested how we could start.

The International Skills Olympics (ISO) is an organization of 27 member countries with one objective: the promotion of vocational training in crafts and industry as well as the service trades. It does this in a most creative and effective way. Its major activity has been to provide competition in 34 technical skills supported by an exchange of information through seminars and workshops to allow comparisons of the various vocational training systems and methods used in the different member countries. All participants must be under 23. The Competition's appeal lies in bringing international Olympic-style GLAMOUR to the display of working skills, both traditional and contemporary. It promotes vital skills and helps foster a national appreciation for industry, hard work and productivity.

The results of the ISO competition in England some years ago were not surprising. The skill-level relationship to export performance was clearly confirmed by the winners, South Korea. That country has one of the most successful and aggressive trading records (Samsung!) of newly industrialized countries; it won 110 gold medals that year. But really, this is one OLYMPICS where there are no losers, as then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke stated in opening the 1988 Skills Olympics. His remarks were echoed at the 1989 closing ceremony when Papua New Guinea's SINGLE competitor - in automobile mechanics – was given the longest and loudest applause!

Next time, could we have a graduate from say the electrical or agricultural faculty of the DOMINICA STATE COLLEGE with a chance for the longest and loudest applause?

We need to be part of these type of Olympics. Does Dominica start the Move? Or at the OECS level? or at CARICOM? Let's give TECH-VOC the real status necessary to seriously develop our Caribbean!