Looking to the budget: A skillpik perspective

Hardcopies of school textbooks. The Education has announced plans to implement an e-books programme. - ROGER JACOB
Hardcopies of school textbooks. The Education has announced plans to implement an e-books programme. - ROGER JACOB


As many anticipate the national budget each year to bring news of tightening our belts, it is important to review whether we the people have grown as an economy and how the current picture will affect us moving forward.

In recent years, it has become even more apparent to the layman how closely knit we are as a global economy – from the exponential spread of covid19 to the crippling effects of the shipment crisis to the unwarranted Russia-Ukraine war.

This realisation for many of us has spurred an awakening and attunement to our personal finances and how we can buffer the impact of these matters on our lives. We begin to question, "How can I secure my financial future? How can I ensure sudden changes in the economy will not significantly impact my income? What opportunities exist for me to be more cost-effective and benefit from savings and investments?"

Much of this is largely and more directly affected by the offerings in the local economy, depending significantly on the initiatives provided by the government to address these very issues on a much larger scale.

A young, vibrant digital startup, skillpik.com, is in fact developing opportunities that can greatly impact economic growth by encouraging individuals to capitalise on their skills and earn a main or supplemental income. Companies and individual service seekers have the opportunity to connect and collaborate with skilled people and entrepreneurs to complete work projects, outsource a variety services, or even hire personnel on a long-term or permanent basis.

As we aim to support this way of working and help improve local service sector revenue, we must examine the trends of the labour market globally to understand how this can, and will, affect us locally.

Here are some pertinent points to help every layman understand "what's in it for me":

Employment and unemployment

With a pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 4.5 per cent as of December 2019 and an increase to 7.2 per cent the following year, stimulus measures in the 2021/22 budget have helped reduce unemployment in 2022.

But unemployment has begun its incline again and is now at 5.10 per cent. This fluctuation shows the clear uncertainty for workers and the jobs they seek. Individuals are experiencing low job security, lack of control over work and have unstable incomes. For this reason, people must look at establishing multiple sources of income by maximising on their skills.

Unemployed individuals have an opportunity at skillpik to do just that. Freelancing gives individuals the opportunity to work from anywhere and at any time. With the government paying greater attention to developing a skills market, organisations both locally and abroad can outsource business processes via our platform.

The economy can benefit largely through this revenue stream, especially since digitised services are easily exportable. Skillpik can therefore have a significant impact on the value of our local service exports, which stood just below US$500 million in 2020.

Flexible work

As unemployment fluctuates, organisations are transforming into leaner, more flexible structures that are more responsive to our dynamic world. On one hand, we are noticing a trend where an increasing number of people are no longer interested in working a traditional eight to four job or are more motivated to work in jobs that they can use and enhance their skills.

On the other hand, we're also observing an emerging pattern in which many organisations are undergoing outplacement and restructuring their organisations.

With these trends and the current pace of technological advancements, change to more flexible working is imminent, as it will accommodate win-win outcomes for both employer and employee.


The past budget provided incentives for new companies with core business activities in digitisation and technology solutions via a tax exemption of 50 per cent in the first year on the first $100,000 of chargeable income, and in the second year, on the first $200,000 of chargeable income.

Further to this the Government is supporting the broad digital strategy by reducing the tax rate by five per cent for small and medium enterprises whose core business, relating to technology solutions, digitisation and construction, is more than 50 per cent of annual revenues.

These very incentives mean that our platform can become better positioned to quickly develop technologies that enable economic growth, reducing unemployment and increasing revenues in the service sector. For this reason, while we see a high national debt rate, it is important to continue these types of relief efforts.

The use of digital systems to access government services is promoted to the public during the opening of Maitagual Community Centre on September 14. - ROGER JACOB

With a move towards digitisation, individual companies must also take heed of the effects of these changes and should identify and prioritise the competencies that will best support digital transformation to drive performance.

To do so, HR has to identify skills gaps and training opportunities to increase workforce proficiencies. By prioritising skills and competencies, they must also support the technologies that drive digital collaboration and productivity in the workplace.

This may mean outsourcing from our pool of knowledge workers to collaborate on training programmes, consult with our experts on change management projects, or hiring IT engineers to implement systems to help move the company into a more adaptable state. As the labour market continues to see a shift in behaviour, skillpik will be well positioned to assist organisations with their individual resourcing challenges.

Import and export of services

Skillpik is making it easier for service seekers to engage local and regional service providers. In 2020, an estimated US$2 billion in services were imported in TT, and this was lower than previous years, significantly due to the emergence of the covid19 pandemic.

By providing a marketplace and building a community that makes it easier for both parties to connect, and safe to pursue business transactions, we will have a direct impact on the value of imports for services in our region. Our aim is to maximise the services that are utilised on our shores from the service providers who originate from our shores.

Education and training

Education and training was given the largest allocation in the 2021/22 budget, at $6.886 billion, and this is promising for students.

More important is ensuring greater return on educational investments such that graduates can easily find jobs, get hired and promote their skills in the local market to improve local productivity. As graduates become service providers based on their academic training, the skillpik platform can play a prominent role in creating digital value that underpins current and future economic growth. We continue to foster relationships with many organisations seeking to find skilled candidates for projects, full-time jobs, part-time jobs and freelancers, and so graduates can connect with companies in search of their unique skills. In the long haul, skillpik helps reduce brain drain on the economy as individuals use their skills in jobs they actually want, rather than doing jobs they are not passionate about simply to earn an income.

Natalie Williams is skillpik's communications officer. She can be reached at communications@skillpik.com, or 779-1754.


"Looking to the budget: A skillpik perspective"

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