New technologies and big data are increasing the demand for skills, including digital skills and high-level cognitive skills. Caribbean private sector can influence the types of skills it needs from its workforce and play an active role in increasing productivity and competitiveness in the region – and globally.
Evidence suggests that low skills in the workforce make it difficult for firms to innovate and that significant investments in skills development are needed to reduce the productivity gap (AfDB, ADB, EBRD, and IDB, 2018). In the Caribbean, firms have consistently identified “an inadequately educated workforce” as their most serious obstacle to improving performance, even when unemployment rate in Caribbean stands at 8% (which means that 1.5 million women and men in the region do not receive any income from employment).
Upon statistical analysis of more than 100 countries and 150 variables related to all sectors of the economy, the education sector presented the largest negative development gaps in Caribbean countries. This means that, compared to other economies of similar income per capita, Caribbean nations are the most lagging countries in terms of education, and, in the skill match with the private sector (Acevedo, Borensztein and Lennon, 2019).