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Story Highlights

  • Caribbean Educators and legislators have been commended for the progress made to standardise vocational education, and the impact this is having on human capital development and economic competitiveness in the region.
  • The Ministry of Education has taken the policy decision to integrate TVET into the traditional grammar school curricula that exist in high schools.
  • A component of the TVET programme involves the Registered Apprenticeship Programme that provides on-the-job training and internationally recognised certification for participants.

Caribbean Educators and legislators have been commended for the progress made to standardise vocational education, and the impact this is having on human capital development and economic competitiveness in the region.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, in his address at the 2nd International Conference on Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the Caribbean, at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel and Spa, in St. James, on May 13, emphasized that the region must respond to changes in the global job market and economic landscapes.

“This is why Jamaica supports the CARICOM Regional TVET Strategy for Workforce Development and Economic Competitiveness that was launched in September 2014 in Trinidad and Tobago. We also endorse the efforts of the Caribbean Association of National Training Authorities to homogenize TVET standards across the region, in order to facilitate the smooth movement of skills and labour,” Rev. Thwaites said.

Locally, the Minister noted that the country’s education system is undergoing a much needed transformation in response to changing job market demands and global economic trends.

Promoting TVET, he said, is a strategic move to prepare the Jamaican workforce to seize the employment opportunities that are increasingly opening up in the technical and vocational fields.

The Ministry of Education has taken the policy decision to integrate TVET into the traditional grammar school curricula that exist in high schools.

“During this academic year we began the integration of traditional and emerging technical and vocational subjects into the high school curriculum of 110 of our 168 high schools. Our target is that by the 2016/2017 (academic year) every Grade 11 student will have to sit a TVET subject in an external examination in order to graduate,” the Minister said.

As such, the TVET thrust is another strategic move to encourage entrepreneurship in own-account and micro-business operations among TVET-skilled persons. “This is one of the surest ways to elevate employment levels across the region,” he argued.

Continuing, Rev Thwaites said Government is also promoting TVET in post-secondary education by repositioning the HEART training institutions to offer higher level training programmes at Levels three to five in four Workforce Colleges, focussing on the areas of Hospitality, Construction, Cosmetology and Information and Communication Technology at three regional TVET Institutes.

A component of the TVET programme involves the Registered Apprenticeship Programme that provides on-the-job training and internationally recognised certification for participants.

“Our Apprenticeship programme has received initial endorsement by the International Labour Organisation, with whom we are seeking to forge formal links,” the Minister said.

Secondary level institutions are also preparing students for advanced studies and the world of work with the introduction of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pedagogy, Rev Thwaites told the conference participants.

He pointed out that the thrust towards TVET and STEM education is not “some drastic and unfortunate move away from competencies in the humanities and social sciences…but is aimed at fostering inquiring minds, logical reasoning, and collaborative skills among students.”

The three-day conference, which closes on Friday (May 15), is being attended by more than 300 Educators and legislators from CARICOM member nations, Canada and the United States as well as representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-Vocational Education (UNESCO-UNEVOC).