The Ministry of Education is introducing a new career development programme, which is expected to produce school leavers, who are better equipped for the labour market.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, speaking at the official launch of National Career Development Awareness Week on February 9 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, explained that the programme will provide students with information on the skills required by the job market, which will help them make more informed career choices.
Targeted are primary and secondary schools with emphasis on grade 9 students, whom at that stage, will still be selecting subjects for a course of study towards a future career.
According to the Education Minister, there are many students entering the labour market “with skills that would not give them a job because they made incorrect decisions whilst they were in school about their education”.
He said that industries have fairly accurate information on the skill sets that they need, but schools do not always have this knowledge. “So the education system may very well be training students, which at the end of their training, don’t match up with the skill sets required,” he pointed out.
He argued that the only way to correct this discrepancy between the education system and the labour market “is by deliberate instrumental action on the part of the Government to ensure that there is synergy between the requirements of the industry and what education is doing… and you can only do that by developing a programme of career development.”
“We want to be able to say to our industry partners give us your skill sets requirement…and we will transmit them from early in the education system so once there is this synchronisation between the requirements of industry and what education is teaching, we will have a far more efficient and productive labour market,” he stated.
The Education Minister said that part of the strategy is the staging of an annual career week, “where the intention is to mobilise the attention of the nation towards inspiring our students in schools to have a serious conversation with themselves about what it is that they want for themselves in the future."
The Minister noted that though the Ministry has had many career development initiatives before, many of which were successful, “what we are trying to do now, is to bring everything together into a consolidated format, which would be sustainable, which I hope in the future, will yield significant results for the development of our country."
Put on by the Education Ministry in collaboration with the Heart Trust/NTA, National Career Development Awareness Week is being observed from February 7 to 11 under the theme: ‘Career Development: Preparing a Workforce, Developing Our Nation – Time for Action!’ and will feature a variety of career-related activities at institutions across the island.
It is to become an annual event to be celebrated during the second week of February. The programme also involves implementing a national career development website for Jamaica.
Wednesday’s launch included a career workshop for principals/vice principals, teachers and guidance counsellors, as well as an exposition.
CONTACT: ALECIA SMITH