Barbados’ high standard of education has produced an easily trained workforce, with an adequate supply of professional as well as skilled and unskilled labour. The Government of Barbados has invested heavily in education at all levels, which translates into a steady stream of both high school and tertiary graduates, in an increasingly diverse range of disciplines. As a result, Barbados has developed a highly educated work force with a strong work ethic and sound values.
The Barbados educational system is modeled after the British system and is considered to provide one of the highest standards of education in the English Caribbean. The educational system ranges from preschool to University. School is compulsory up to the age of 16 and government schools are free at the primary and secondary levels. Educational institutions at the post secondary level include colleges, a university and vocational and technical training schools. There are also special schools for the mentally and physically handicapped.
Barbados’ top-level educational system has yielded a highly intelligent workforce, with an abundance of professional as well as skilled and unskilled labour. The labour force is estimated at 144,000 (2017). The most recent unemployment data for 2017 indicates an unemployment rate of 10.1% according to the Barbados Statistical Service.
The weekly working hours for office personnel vary between 35 to 40 hours, while a 40-hour week is normal for manual workers. Work undertaken in excess of the basic workweek and during public holidays normally attracts premium rates of pay. Several pieces of legislation are in place to govern labour relations including the Severance Payments Act and the Holidays With Pay Act.
The National Insurance and Social Security Act provide medical assistance for employees in the event of illness, maternity leave and accidents. They also provide unemployment, disability and pension benefits. Four major unions represent the labour movement. There have been few work stoppages in recent years, primarily due to the existence of good labour relations. Barbados has twelve paid public holidays. In addition, all workers have a statutory right to twelve weeks of maternity leave and three weeks of annual vacation with pay, which increases to four weeks after the fifth year of steady employment.
Employment by Major Industrial Division
Source: Barbados Statistical Service. Units – Thousands of people.