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HEART Trust/NTA Managing Director, Dr. Janet Dyer (left), addressing a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank at the Agency’s head office in Kingston. Looking on is HEART’s Director for National Training, Kenesha Campbell.
Photo: Donald De La Haye

Story Highlights

  • The HEART Trust/NTA’s merger with three other key training institutions forms part of the Government’s policy focus on modernising the public sector through, among other things, a trained and certified labour force.
  • Consequent on a September 2017 Cabinet decision, instructions were issued for the merger of HEART Trust/NTA, Jamaica’s premier training agency, the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), the National Youth Service (NYS) and the Apprenticeship Board.
  • The new HEART Trust/NTA Act was approved in the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year. The legislation will streamline training processes; clearly establish the rights and obligations of trainees, employers and HEART; provide for such transitional measures as deemed necessary to facilitate the smooth transfer of administrative responsibilities to the Trust and provide for the issuance, validation or recognition, as required, of certificates or other academic qualifications, distinctions or awards to current and former participants of the training programmes now merged with those of HEART.

The HEART Trust/NTA’s merger with three other key training institutions forms part of the Government’s policy focus on modernising the public sector through, among other things, a trained and certified labour force.

Consequent on a September 2017 Cabinet decision, instructions were issued for the merger of HEART Trust/NTA, Jamaica’s premier training agency, the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), the National Youth Service (NYS) and the Apprenticeship Board.

The new HEART Trust/NTA Act was approved in the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year. The legislation will streamline training processes; clearly establish the rights and obligations of trainees, employers and HEART; provide for such transitional measures as deemed necessary to facilitate the smooth transfer of administrative responsibilities to the Trust and provide for the issuance, validation or recognition, as required, of certificates or other academic qualifications, distinctions or awards to current and former participants of the training programmes now merged with those of HEART.

The merger will create an entity that will refocus the Government’s training resources into one institution.

This super institution is being positioned as a pivotal economic driver by virtue of its significantly expanded programme and service offerings.

Managing Director, Dr. Janet Dyer, tells JIS News that this amalgamation represents the largest, to date, in the history of Jamaica’s public sector.

According to Dr. Dyer, Jamaicans, 17 years and older will have the opportunity to maximise their potential for work, volunteerism, mentorship and national service, thereby advancing the country’s growth and development.

She posits that if the long-term National Development Plan – Vision 2030 Jamaica is to become a reality, human capital development will be key in ensuring that local businesses, industries and the economy can grow through the value created by educated, trained and certified workers and volunteers.

“As the National Training Agency, we are obligated to put mechanisms in place to equip as many of our citizens to make the best of themselves. It is about getting the nearly 1.4 million labour force engaged in work, volunteerism and national service,” she adds. Against this background, HEART has been responding in a manner consistent with Vision 2030 Jamaica, and the Human Capital Development initiatives articulated in the Economic Growth Council (EGC) Call to Action.

Ninety-eight per cent of the Trust’s training programmes are presently aligned with labour market demands. The entity has also developed a job portal that will form part of a national repository.

“Certified graduates can now connect with potential employers. The aim is also to build synergies with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s Labour Market Information System (LMIS) portal,” she informs. Dr. Dyer discloses that several memoranda of understanding (MoU) have also been signed with other educational and training institutions for the sharing of labour supply statistics to populate the Trust’s job portal. The institution’s apprenticeship programme has also been upgraded and expanded.

This has resulted in the placement of thousands of young persons in entities through work-based learning programmes that are facilitated under the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Youth Summer Programme; the Empowerment programme that targets persons with disabilities; and the Graduate Work programme, which focuses on tertiary graduates.

But not only does the mega institution provide training, it also facilitates funding for labour market-driven programmes aligned to Jamaica’s economic development and growth agenda.

Subsidy agreements have also been signed with five business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, each of which has committed to provide employment for at least 80 per cent of the persons they train.

The HEART Trust/NTA’s operations are characterised by the increased access to training and certification, with access much easier when funding is available.

More than $200 million has been budgeted for the 2019/20 fiscal year, to facilitate training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Additionally, in an effort to establish a comprehensive and integrated training and capacity development programme for micro, small and medium-sized ejnterprises (MSMEs), HEART provides grant funding, capacity building and technical assistance to these entities through a partnership with the Jamaica Business Development Cooperation (JBDC).

Director for National Training, Kenesha Campbell, tells JIS News that partnerships are key in enabling HEART to enhance training and development opportunities.

“Engaging in partnerships reflects [United Nations] Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) # 17, which speaks to ‘Partnerships for Goals’. As the National Training Agency for Jamaica, many development initiatives and partnerships have been forged to further advance training and development opportunities locally and internationally,”, she points out.

The entity has partnered with the American Culinary Federation (ACF), one of the largest professional training organisations for chefs and cooks in North America.

The organisation has provided 10 of the Trust’s instructors with globally recognised ACF certification.

The Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia in Canada assists HEART in enhancing the practices of its adult education instructors.

Several instructors will access training and certification in instructional skills and facilitator development workshops. One of Jamaica’s leading automotive dealerships, ATL Automotive Limited, collaborates with HEART to provide trainees with industry-aligned experience and employment opportunities.

Through this partnership, the training programme is being strengthened, with more than 120 persons benefiting annually.

Ms. Campbell discloses that a memorandum of agreement was signed with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) to provide support for the upskilling of TVET instructors as well as the provision of employment opportunities and training and certification for students.

Through this collaboration, HEART instructors will also be trained in pneumatics, while the students will be trained in emerging skills areas such as logistics, automation, mechatronics and industrial engineering.

Several other partnerships have also been forged with local and international organisations.

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