Featuring the Caribbean: Saint Lucia matches skills and labour market needs with a lifelong learning perspective

  • 24 March 2017
© Meng He

Situated in the eastern Caribbean Sea, Saint Lucia is home to 185,000 people. Almost 40 per cent of them (68,000) live in the capital, Castries City. The island country’s official language is English, but French patois, which merges elements of French with languages such as Yoruba and Igbo, is also widely spoken, particularly in rural areas.

Saint Lucia’s government considers education to be key to economic prosperity, cultural cohesion and democratic governance. The developing economy has 14 per cent of its annual budget allocated to education. Furthermore, education is seen as a lifelong process with learners at the core. A lifelong learning perspective is integrated into various policies and national education plans, e.g. the Literacy Development Plan and the Education Sector Development Plan 2015–2020.

One of the main challenges that Saint Lucia faces is a high level of unemployment (20 per cent in 2016, according to the United Nations Development Programme) and underemployment. Therefore, great importance has been attached to human resource development and technical vocational education and training (TVET), specifically for vulnerable youth and adults, so as to better match skills with labour market needs. Two examples of this are: the Information Communication Technology Skills Development Programme, which provides certified training to unemployed young people between 17 and 35 years of age, and the National Enrichment and Learning Unit, which trains more than 1,000 graduates annually in subjects such as information technology, languages and community education (e.g. human relations). In addition to government interventions, institutions such as the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College also contribute to continuing education and the promotion of youth and adult learning, by offering mathematics, English and various other training courses for industry and government.

Recently, UNESCO conducted a TVET policy review on behalf of the Saint Lucia government, suggesting a national TVET policy framework for the country. The review emphasized the importance of a demand-driven provision of TVET, efficient data collection by all stakeholders, as well as a central repository for TVET information. The review outcomes are expected to strengthen governance, access, quality and financing for the TVET system in Saint Lucia, which will hopefully promote the skills development of citizens, and, ultimately, the sustainable growth of the society.


UIS (UNESCO Institute for Statistics). Saint Lucia. Available at: http://uis.unesco.org/country/lc  [Accessed 14 March 2017].

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) in Barbados; OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States). 2016. About Saint Lucia. Available at: http://www.bb.undp.org/content/barbados/en/home/countryinfo/saint_lucia.html [Accessed 20 March 2017].

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). 2017. TVET Policy Review: Saint Lucia. Available at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002474/247494e.pdf [Accessed 14 March 2017].

Government of Saint Lucia. Education Sector Development Plan 2015–2020. Available at: http://www.govt.lc/media.govt.lc/www/resources/publications/education-sector-development-plan-2015-20200.pdf [Accessed 14 March 2017].

Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme. Available at:  http://www.carcip.govt.lc/ [Accessed 14 March 2017].

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