“Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.”
— Orrin Woodward
Over the past nine months, I have provided opinions comparing and contrasting the work of the One Bermuda Alliance and the Progressive Labour Party government. I am charting a new course with my opinions by laying out a vision; ideas and goals for our nation home that provides an improvement on who we are and what we can become.
To begin with, Bermuda needs to transition from being a dualistic nation with a clear race/class divide to become a nation where the only limit to one’s personal goals to achieve greatness is their own lack of initiative, drive and determination. It is now time to tear down the race and class barriers so that everyone is inspired to be their best and to be their most productive.
The challenge begins with inspiring Bermudians to bring about this reality and replace the present attitudes of cynicism and arrogance with hope and aspiration.
For this greatness to be achieved, the education system must be reformed with a broad-based success agenda in view. What this means is that we should no longer view education as a means of getting our children through high school for statistical purposes.
Students and their families should be encouraged to choose viable career paths as early as possible. The system should be reformed to ensure students’ success by allocating resources until the student enters the workforce or returns from higher education to productive employment.
In addition, the system change in education should include ensuring students have a broad understanding of the business side of their chosen field of employment. Many students are returning from university and are facing the harsh reality that there is no pot of gold — jobs — waiting for them upon their return. However, if they understood the business side of their chosen vocation, they can potentially begin to create their own business and a job for themselves.
For instance, if a student is pursuing plumbing as a career, they should understand the business side of plumbing so they can create a successful business. If one is studying to be a medical doctor, they should learn the business side of their discipline so that they can open their own practice. In a world of high tech, we should encourage the pursuit of high-tech careers and the art of running high-tech businesses.
Our education system should evolve from where some students reach for the stars while many others are “marking time” until they are ejected into the job market that doesn’t exist and they are woefully unprepared.
Students should be equally prepared to become successful job creators as well as competent, highly skilled workers in their chosen careers.
The glory days where there was full employment and the need for surplus expatriate workers are gone. Therefore, we should strive to become a business-oriented nation from the ground up.
We can no longer pin all of our hopes exclusively upon international business, the merchant class and tourism. Tourism overall is not what it used be, although it has been growing lately.
International business has the potential to dwindle with the protectionist deglobalisation momentum taking root in the United States and Europe. Additionally, the mergers and acquisitions taking place in our own backyard are clear signs that all is not well in the industry.
We should partner with international business to innovate and get out in front of this wave before it crashes on us and overtakes us.
We can see the warnings given recently by business leaders regarding the results of the Bermuda Business Confidence Survey. There is a real concern by business leaders about the present vitality and the future of local and international business.
With this concern in view, as a nation we need to be bold in our thinking and creating business opportunities with the resources at our disposal.
We have 21 square miles of land and we have, according to international law, 200 square miles of water under our control. We need to inspire and incentivise Bermudians to become emboldened to realise the potential that lies therein.
We should tap into our land and ocean resources for global trade and to reshape our tourism industry.
Our ocean is an unexplored and untouched avenue to bring in foreign exchange that we require to increase our standard of living and to eliminate our debt.
Government debt has been swept under the carpet recently, but we cannot allow it to keep growing. It is a tumour that threatens to kill our economy.
The more the debt grows, more money is required to service it. The more it grows, we have less money available for education, healthcare and infrastructure. The more the debt grows, more taxes on real estate, petrol, sugar, food and anything else will be imposed on us to pay for it.
Bermuda, we must open our minds to see what endless possibilities abound when we stop narrowly defining and dividing ourselves by colour and class.
We will see endless possibilities when we foster an education system that not only produces quality employees, but unleashes Bermudian entrepreneurs who run successful business ventures.
Once our minds are opened to explore the vast amount of resources at our disposal, we can collectively ensure a better standard of living for ourselves and the next generation.
In closing, I recognise that this opinion will not resonate with all. However, what I want to convey is that we require all hands on deck to create a momentum to move the entire country forward.
This opinion rejects the notion that while our existing standard of living continues to decline, the best we can do is focus on who is going to be served first from an increasingly diminishing pie.
• Vic Ball was a One Bermuda Alliance senator from November 2014 to July 2017