BACKGROUND AND PROBLEM ANALYSIS
According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Population Division, the current population of the Bahamas as of June 21, 2023, is 404,366. The Bahamas' population is projected to increase by 5,934 people and reach 414,608 by the beginning of 2024. The natural increase is expected to be positive, as the number of births will exceed the number of deaths by 3,821. If external migration remains at the previous year's level, the population will be increased by 2,113 due to migration reasons. It means that the number of people who move into the Bahamas (to which they are not native) to settle there as permanent residents (immigrants) will prevail over the number of people who leave the country to settle permanently in another country (emigrants).
The 2023 World Population Review stated that Abaco Island is a series of islands in the northern Bahamas. The two main islands are Great Abaco and Little Abaco. Several small barrier islands surround the larger islands but do not have a significant population. In total, the Bahamas has approximately 31 government districts. Close to a quarter of them are located in this region of the country. They include Grand Cay, North Abaco, Green Turtle Cay, Central Abaco, South Abaco, Moore's Island, and Hope Town. In addition, the island is home to Marsh Harbour, the central commercial hub of the Bahamas. Abaco is a 120-mile chain of islands comprising 776 square miles.
The population in the area has fluctuated throughout the years, but it is estimated that approximately 17,000 people live in this region of the Bahamas. The number of people on the island is significantly higher throughout the year. One of the main drivers of the economy is tourism. Therefore, tourists come from all over the world to check out the islands. The population can swell significantly during the summer, mainly because the islands are close to the United States. It is easy for tourists from Florida and Georgia to get to the islands, which contributes to a population swell.
Because the area is surrounded by warm water, it is also a magnet for large hurricanes. In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian landed on Elbow Cay in the Abaco Islands. During this hurricane, the wind speeds reached 225 mph, which tied the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane as the strongest hurricane to form in the Atlantic. The storm caused catastrophic damage, devastating approximately eighty-seven percent of the Abaco Islands. Seventy-five percent of all buildings on the island were destroyed, and about sixty-seven people died. Close to 30,000 people suffered significant property damage, leading to widespread economic losses. The recovery process has been slow because the coronavirus pandemic started shortly after Hurricane Dorian made landfall. Despite substantial aid, the area is still rebuilding.
The unemployment rate in the Bahamas went down to 10.1 percent in 2022 from 11.7 percent in 2021 http://www.bahamas.gov.bs/
The youth unemployment rate focuses on individuals aged 15-24 seeking work without results. In The Bahamas, the youth unemployment rate was 30.78% in 2021, which is higher than average. Historical data also see youth unemployment rates hover between 24%-30% since 2018.
The Bahamas minimum wage was previously $5.25/hour or $210 per week, which translates to a salary of $10,080. However, the Bahamian government recently announced a minimum wage increase to a weekly $260, translating to a $12,480 salary. The World Bank listed an inflation rate for the Bahamas in 2022 as 5.6%, an increase from 1.4% in 1994
Ministry of Education has made the following statement concerning Technical training in the Bahamas. As global trends change, there has been an increased focus on Career and Technical Education (CTE), with a vision to boost entrepreneurship, technical competence, national development, economic expansion, and sustainability. The Bahamas is no different! We have come to appreciate the relevance and level of expertise required in the CTE areas of study. This focus has resulted in program expansion in our schools and increased diversified professional development for our educators. Trends have mandated a shift from teacher-centered, theoretical approaches to learning to student-centered, practical, and discovery-based environments, which harness our diverse student population's interests and skill sets. We are mandated to 'Understand the Whole Picture and Imaging The Finished Results'.
As teachers are exposed, similarly are the students within CTE. To showcase the collective efforts of teachers and students, The National CTE Exhibition & College Fair is facilitated annually during CTE Month, which falls in February. In addition to showcasing the talents, training, and expertise of residents in CTE, industry professionals, and colleges, our students align their interests and abilities with Corporate Bahamas and local/international tertiary institutions.
As we continuously sought creative and relevant opportunities for student development before the Job Readiness component of the Bahamas High School Diploma (BHSD), CTE students were exposed to annual two-day industry training during January, tagged Workforce Readiness Bootcamp. The event partners with The College of The Bahamas and The Hotel & Tourism Association. These yearly activities attracted and exposed thousands of public and independent school students over the years, seeking to address interpersonal, deportment, and communication skills for potential employees.
Business students have been engaged in various training seminars and workshops, seeking to allow them to apply the academics learned daily. They have participated in Business Bowl, a partnership with Berkley University Graduate students that challenges students in a marketing/advertising capacity. This initiative expanded and led to challenges in Accounting, Commerce, and Economics, where we have engaged professional partners who are asked to mentor students and provide hands–on training and exposure to complement our program offerings. Local accounting firms like KPMG, Copper's & Lightbourne, the Financial Services and Accounting Associations, and entrepreneurs and local businesses here all partnered to ensure exposure for teachers and students.
The Bahamas Information Services authored a press release for the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training, which gives the breakdown of recommendations of the National Review Commission to amend the Bahamas High School Diploma (BHSD). One of the changes to the Academic Criteria to obtain a BHSD is OPTION 2 (General Pathway): Numeracy/Literacy Equivalent OR BJCs OR City and Guilds, 2.0 CGPA (The credentials will be channeled through NAECOB to the Evaluation and Assessment Division of the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training. They will be accepted if approved as a criterion for receiving a BHSD.) We are saying to all that a career in Aquaculture, Plumbing, Electrical Installation, and Engineering is just as important as a career Scientist, Mathematician, or Lawyer.
In February 2019, Minister of Education, the Hon. Jeffery Lloyd, said technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is the "most critical need in the country." "Were it not for technicians, society would come to a halt," said Minister Lloyd recently at TVET Day at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI). "It is regrettable that as the foundation of any society, TVET is seen as a discount in people's minds," he noted.
At the ceremony, Mr. Basden said, "TVET is the backbone of our country." "We tend to minimize the technical aspect of life until something goes down, whether there's a leak or the computer system goes down. Do not think you are less of a person because of a technical education. Not only does it allow you to be employed, but to be the employer."