Two more Prime Minister’s Scholarships to be available to bankers

Melford Nicholas (OBSERVER media photo)

By Latrishka Thomas

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has made it clear that upward mobility of future local financiers is of extreme importance, and to encourage the growth and development of these individuals, two additional Prime Minister’s Scholarships will now be up for grabs by persons wishing to better themselves within the banking sector.

“It’s the government-announced intent to buttress what we have invited the banks to consider, but we do think that in the environment where we are going to have to become masters of our own banking sector. It will be futile to have to rely on extra-regional or intra-regional personnel when we can certainly develop that ourselves,” Minister of Information Melford Nicholas said in Thursday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

As such, there will now be a total of six Prime Minister’s Scholarships available each year.

Cabinet explained that this decision was made to “assist in funding the training of middle- and upper-level bank managers in order to ensure that a cadre of trained professionals will be available always to fill naturally-occurring managerial vacancies that will arise as a result of attrition and resignations.”

And Nicholas further stated that the scholarships would assist in alleviating brain drain.

“There was the observation made, and certainly to the directors, that there is certainly a dearth of persons who operate at the senior management level in the financial sector, and the cabinet frowned at the lack of succession planning, and almost religiously now, the top management personnel within the banking sector are drawn extra-regionally or from outside of Antigua, and that is an unsatisfactory position,” Nicholas said.

He added that in keeping with the intent of developing our human resource capital they “challenged the banks to be able to provide some funding to equip some of the middle managers and the persons who have the potential to get to the top management level, and we will grant the support through the Prime Minister’s Scholarship fund in a number of instances.”

According to him, the expectation is that “within a two- to three-year period that there should be sufficiency in the pool of persons that could head our institutions, and that there are adequate opportunities for succession planning in the years going forward.”

Furthermore, the Cabinet is encouraging as many people as possible to pursue careers in finance and banking.