The Ministry of Social Care recently unveiled a new initiative, entitled Strengthening Human and Social Development (SHSD). The project follows on one of the poverty reduction initiative, the Identification, Stabilization, Enablement and Empowerment Bridge Programme, commonly referred to as the I.S.E.E Bridge Programme, which commenced in September 2012 to November 2014 as a pilot and continued in 2015 as a full programme.
The project is aimed at addressing the circumstances of vulnerable families in extreme poverty and the unemployed. More particularly, the (SHSD) project is intended to strengthen the Barbados Social Safety Net (SSN) and Active Labour Market Policy (ALMP) over a period of five years.
The success of the project relies wholly, on the active cooperation of several agencies that provide social services and extremely close collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, through its National Employment Bureau in addressing the needs of the unemployed. With support from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Ministry of the Civil Service.
The programme, will be implemented over a five-year period, and will be financed through a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank. The programme consists of three components, each with a specific objective. The first component aims to reduce extreme poverty through the expansion and consolidation of the I.S.E.E Bridge Programme (as outlined above), and will target 250 households. In this component, in addition to addressing the unique needs of each family, it is hoped that the cycle of inter-generational poverty will be broken.
Component 2 aims to reduce unemployment through improved employment agency-related services and demand-driven technical training. One of the main strategies will be to strengthen the role of the National Employment Bureau (NEB) to function more efficiently in the area of career counselling and in providing intermediation services.
As a result of this intervention, there will be a restructured National Employment Bureau with an enhanced, skilled team of vocational counsellors. It is envisaged that the business processes in the rebranded NEB will be streamlined to fully utilize technology to impact operational efficiencies.
The final component is particularly critical to the Ministry of Social Care, as it seeks to improve information flows and networking among the various social safety net service providers and establish an efficient and functional management information system. The aim is, through the deployment of various technologies, a stronger network will emerge and where feasible, there would be connectivity with the programmes executed by the Ministry of Social Care, Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development and other related institutions.