Racquel Bethel, Dean of Student Services
Dr. Pleshette McPhee, Dean of Academic Affairs
Anthony Ramtulla, Dean of Information Technology & Distance Education
Dean of Construction & Workforce Development
Dr. Robert W. Robertson, President
Mark Hughes, Construction Program Manager Valencia College
For the first time in the history of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), five of its employees had the opportunity to present at the same international conference.
The 5th International Conference on technical vocational education and training (TVET) in the Caribbean was held May 12th – 14th, 2021 under the theme, TVET: Creating Opportunities in a Global Pandemic.
The BTVI team included President, Dr. Robert W. Robertson, along with Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Pleshette McPhee; Dean of Student Services, Racquel Bethel and Dean of Information Technology and Distance Education, Anthony Ramtulla. Dean of Construction and Workforce Development, Alexander Darville, co-presented with Valencia College’s Construction Program Manager, Mark Hughes, who is also Master Trainer for the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). BTVI has partnered with Valencia College to offer the NCCER curriculum in The Bahamas, which culminates in certification.
Dr. Robertson expressed pride in this accomplishment for BTVI.
“We are very pleased to have a wide range of the academic leadership team recognized for their leading-edge work. This is the largest regional TVET conference with international participants, and having five peer reviewed presentations accepted is a credit to the team at BTVI,” said Dr. Robertson.
“With the rapid advancement of technology, the world is our oyster. We have a core team of academic presenters who are not only willing but able to intelligently represent the institution and the country. It is incredible for such a small institution in a relatively small Caribbean nation to be so well represented at a conference of this nature. I am particularly pleased with the quality of their research and had the opportunity to sit in on their presentations. As a leader, I was incredibly proud of this team,” added Dr. Robertson.
Out of the blocks first on day one were Ms. Bethel who presented on Soft Skills in TVET Education and Dr. McPhee with a presentation on Improving our Digital Skills as TVET Teachers: Adapting to the New Virtual Reality. Dr. McPhee was aided by Chair of Office Systems and Administration, Kerima Smith and Academic Support Officer, Remiska Wildgoose. On day two, Mr. Darville and Mr. Hughes co-presented on Certified Technical Training to Rebuild The Bahamas, while Mr. Ramtulla’s focus was on Developing Skills in The Bahamas.
Dr. Robertson was a part of the symposium for country reports. He presented on The Future of Work Perspectives from The Bahamas.
“A 2019 skills gap survey notes that more than 60% of employers have concerns about the skill sets and quality of prospective employees. We resurveyed in 2021 and the same concerns persist. Skills in demand include soft and hard skills, and this skills gap is neither new nor unique to The Bahamas. Life-long learning is key to the future and virtual and blended training will remain relevant as BTVI addresses the skills gap head on,” said Dr. Robertson.
Dr. Robertson spoke about BTVI’s response to training in a covid-19 environment, including establishing a Center for Online and Distance Education (CODE), led by Dean Ramtulla. It supports innovation in a virtual and blended education, which has resulted in virtual opportunities nationwide. This was in addition to BTVI securing a partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) to train 30 faculty members on developing and delivering online classes, offering dual enrollment for high schoolers and pushing the need for certification inclusive of CompTIA, Cisco, City and Guilds, Microsoft and NCCER.
There were over 500 participants from around the world, including from most of the 17 states within CARICOM. According to Chairman of the Web Platform Committee, Professor Disraeli Hutton, the virtual conference had up to three times the number of participants attending over the previous four face-to-face conferences.