Labour and Social security Minister Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo has a message for her fellow citizens. Learn a foreign language.She says as the island continues to sign bilateral trade agreements, pursue foreign direct investment, and attract tourists from non-traditional markets, it is imperative for citizens to develop their language skills.
The minister notes that she is impressed with the Òmultilingual nature of ArubaÓ where she recently addressed business leaders in that Dutch territory. The Labour Minister said that while Barbados had introduced Spanish at the primary school level, businesses and individuals also needed to be more aggressive in their pursuit of foreign language skills.
“We are talking about developing and enhancing trade with the French Caribbean and Latin America. We also want to attract tourists from those countries to Barbados. We can’t do that and only speak English; this certainly shows that we need to be speaking more languages, specifically Spanish, French and Portuguese,” Byer Suckoo said.
She says learning a foreign language also makes a person more marketable. “It is envisaged that a business seeking to expand into foreign markets would initially use technology, but a business will eventually want to have a (physical) presence in those countries.
If a company from Barbados is expanding into Brazil, for example, this creates jobs in both countries; and if Barbadians are unable to fill those positions because of language barriers, then it means that Brazilians will have to fill the jobs on both sides, because they speak English and Portuguese,” she said.