Most Caribbean nations celebrate August 1st as a national holiday commemorating the Slave Abolition Act 1833 that came into effect on August 1, 1834. Emancipation of African slaves took place in the United States 31 years later near the culmination of a horrendous Civil War.
Now seems a good time to ask the question; how are we using that freedom today?
There are many angles to this question. I think that in this time of economic hardship, it might be useful to examine what actually changed with emancipation. Further, how do the things we think and do today reflect a conscious appreciation of our improved state?
It hit like a bombshell, when Barbados’ Central Bank Governor announced that a $450 million reduction in expenditures is needed immediately. These cuts are necessary to offset the declining international foreign exchange reserves.
These declines so threaten the exchange rate, that it could cause the devaluation of Barbados’ currency. An anchored exchange rate provides benefits that have long been taken for granted. According to the Central Bank, it protects the real value of national savings, provides a currency stability that acts as an incentive for investment and provides evidence of Government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation.
Suddenly, persons who would have thought of themselves as protected by ensconced positions, perks and pensions, recognize they are now vulnerable. Traditionally, in Barbados, there have been persons who can “make a call” to a well-placed crony to obtain fast action or forestall discomfort; they can no longer do so, as people “break for themselves”.
Instinctively, each of us hopes for many good days in our lives but seldom stop and take notice when they occur.
I have just had another good day and as I began to recount what made it so, it struck me how important it is to have a positive frame of mind. It began with a recognition that being alive in Barbados, is something I could not have imagined when I was struggling to establish a good life. I thought of the various people who sought and received my assistance and the fact that I am valued enough to attract these requests. I thought of the convergence of so many resources that have been put at my disposal because the thrust of my work is deemed to have merit. I thank God that I am able to see challenges and obstacles as necessary components to my development into a fully human person. Each of these reflections gave rise to specific occasions to rejoice.
A recent Gallup Poll study found that in the United States, 70% of employees are disinterested and/or disconnected from their jobs and goals of their employers. Last year, NISE published a similar finding regarding Barbadian workers.
Last week, in the Barbados Business Authority, I saw a picture of a man standing on the side of the road handing out his resume. Below, was an article pointing out that employers are now seeking to hire people who have a demonstrated ability to work with others to get things done. The Associated Press compiled a study showing that “soft skills tend to differentiate good college graduates from exceptional college graduates”.
The trend is toward candidates virtually being “auditioned” in assessment center exercises to “see how well they work in teams, write and speak with clarity, adapt quickly to changes in technology and business conditions, and interact with colleagues from different countries and cultures.”
LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, has more than 225 million subscribers to its website. The majority are seeking jobs or opportunities to advance their professional pursuits. Amazingly, very few are able to make a compelling presentation of what makes them worth being considered. Those who offer credible proof of their capabilities, find this confirmed in the form of endorsements and valuable connections.