JIS News

Regional National Training Agencies (NTAs) have bonded together to form an umbrella grouping, known as the Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies (CANTA).
This is to ensure a uniformed level of certified skilled labour under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), which is expected to be fully implemented by 2008.
Formed in 2003, CANTA has established a regional certification scheme that awards the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ), which is equal to each country’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) certification. Because of this, it is important to synchronise standard, training and competency across the region.
Under the leadership of founding Chairman, Robert Gregory, Executive Director of the HEART Trust/NTA, CANTA has already conducted numerous training and certification workshops.
“CANTA is preparing people for free movement of labour under the CSME, which intends to have all factors of production moving freely. CANTA is not only good for Caribbean integration, but necessary,” Mr Gregory told JIS News in an interview.
“Do not fear integration,” he assured, adding that the CSME should be seen as an extension of each country in the Caribbean. “It is the pooling of interests, human and natural resources,” he noted.
In addition to the HEART Trust/NTA, CANTA is comprised of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Training Agency, the Barbados TVET Council and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States TVET agency.
“The strategy is to harmonise qualifications region wide. Jamaica, through the HEART Trust/NTA, which has conducted training workshops in different CARICOM member states prior to the 2003 launch of CANTA and is still doing so, especially in the Eastern Caribbean islands, has been leading the process,” informed Mark Thomas, Head of Communications at the HEART Trust/NTA.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, for example, do not yet have National Training Agencies and as such are among the countries currently benefiting from the ongoing workshops and seminars conducted by CANTA.
Mr. Gregory explained that CANTA’s workshops guide and inform trainers within the CARICOM member states; they do not conduct the actual classes. “Our main focus is capacity building. We develop the standards and share them at the workshops. The specific institutions in these countries then instruct, based on these standards, upon which the CVQ is awarded,” he noted.
The workshops, which are endorsed by the International Labour Organization (ILO), are part funded by the HEART Trust/NTA and subsidized by donations, annual subscriptions of US$500 (full membership), US$300 (provisional membership) and US$200 (associate membership), subventions, covenants and grants. “It is not an expensive venture, since it is subsidized, plus HEART already has the mechanisms in place. We did not have to re-invent the wheel,” Mr. Gregory pointed out.
Through the HEART Trust/NTA, CANTA supplies CARICOM member states with standards modules or books that detail specific qualifications, competency levels, alongside job descriptions and curricula for different vocations.
“All training is done according to standards and HEART produces various standards books for each vocation,” said Mr. Thomas. He also added that Jamaica is recognized as a leader in the standards creation process.
So far, 120 occupations have been recognized and certified under CANTA and Mr. Thomas informed that at least a grade nine high school education is required for enrollment in any of the region wide TVET programmes.