FRIDAY, NOV. 16: I cannot remember the last time that I opened a paper and did not find Sir John Swan and Larry Burchall featured inside it.

I know there must have been a few published of late that did not have their faces looking back at the hapless reader but I just cannot for the life of me recall them.

Just think about it; for the last seven months or so, with almost metronomic regularity, the two have either been featured in this paper, the daily or both on a regular basis.

I have to give them credit for one thing; they have provided a substantive vision of the future, at a time when the country desperately needs one.

I just happen to think that their vision of the future — while compelling — is much like that of the One Bermuda Alliance in that it falls terribly short.

I cannot emphasize enough that I agree with their basic premise that our ability to turn around Bermuda’s economy and restore competitiveness will depend on the renewal of business growth. And this business growth can only be triggered by inward investment that will inevitably lead to a rise of job creation and consumer demand on-island.

The real question is, how we do we grow and how we make sure that all Bermudians — not just the chosen few — benefit from that growth?

We all wish to see Bermuda’s economy operating on all cylinders but a return to a period characterized by unfettered, wild west-style economic growth ignores the fact that there are some costs attached.

One cost was that the old model of economic growth was accompanied by a trend that saw a growing number of Bermudian small to mid-sized business owners over the last two decades accessing lower cost labour, usually from Asia or the Azores, in a way that marginalized too many Bermudian blue collar workers. This trend, in my view, led to a suppression of wage and benefit growth, and in some instances employment opportunities for Bermudians.

Do we really wish to see a resumption of a trend that while great for the bottom lines of some of these businesses, invariably marginalized growing number of Bermudian workers?

One consequence, as revealed by recent studies, and as recently profiled in the news media, indicates that income inequality has grown, especially along the racial fault lines that remain a consistent feature of this society.

The biggest problem for me with the OBA/UBP/Burchall/Swan critique, is that it is missing one critical component: it is not a vision that places Bermudians front and centre.

We should not ignore global trends that now confirm that the path to sustained economic growth and social stability lies in the ability for countries to enhance their competiveness through investments in education, and workforce development. It also requires that we vigorously promote racial inclusiveness and equality in a systemic way, particularly with respect to our economy, something that Sir John still refuses to acknowledge.

Increasingly, in the 21st century, the most successful economies will be knowledge-based. They must then, of necessity, be economies that possess workforces highly proficient in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The end product will be societies that produce highly trained workers not only in the specialized professions but in the technical and vocational areas as well.

And make no mistake about it; we must do both well.

While hosting a group from the US, one of the participants made it clear how high the stakes were with respect to technical education when she stated that a mechanic must have at least a grade 13 reading and comprehension  level in order to repair her Prius.

The PLP government is now beginning to create, in real time, the capacity needed to accomplish this. It requires a real and substantial investment in our people, notwithstanding the economic downturn.

This remains our societal challenge and has been for decades. The Government’s commitment to workforce development, through, among other things, its implementation of the recommendations advocated by the Mincy Study on Young Black Males; and its commitment to a root and branch reform of our education system by the adoption of the more vigorous Cambridge curriculum, at least begins to get us part of the way there—at least — with respect to two of the three benchmarks.

This will make all the difference between an economy that serves the many well and one that only really caters to a small and increasingly wealthy elite. The stakes could not be higher. The government gets it; but I am not sure that  the OBA, Sir John or Larry Burchall do.

• Rolfe Commissiong is PLP candidate for Constituency 21, Pembroke South East.