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The Jamaican Government is moving to expand opportunities for applications/vocational-based education at the tertiary level, as it seeks to provide more options for training outside of the academics and meet the certification needs of persons pursuing careers in the technical fields.
Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, has said that the move will also ensure that once secondary students leave the Career Advancement Programme (CAP), now underway as a pilot, they will have ample opportunity for advanced career and skills training.
“Our target is that when they leave CAP, they will leave with a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2 certificate, which is specific to a skill area and from there, they could move into what we are now creating using the resources of the HEART Trust /NTA, to create what we call stand-alone colleges or workforce colleges,” he explained.
Minister Holness was addressing the opening of the 9th annual conference of the Association of Caribbean Higher Education Administrators (ACHEA) on Thursday July 8 at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios.
He noted that while academic qualifications are important in the job market, employers are clamouring for persons, who have technical expertise. He said further that the evolution of the tertiary sector in Jamaica, and indeed, most of the Caribbean, revolves around academic work and “we do not have a highly developed applications-based sector”.
“Just in that mere fact, we would be denying access to tertiary level recognition for persons, who would want to pursue an applications-based tertiary course of study,” he contended.
Arguing that the focus on technical training would encourage more males to pursue tertiary education, the Education Minister said a recent study shows that there is a significant performance gap between males and females in the tertiary sector, and part of the problem is the relevance of the courses to males.
“The universities would probably have to take a closer look at their subject areas in order to attract more males into the institutions,” he stated.
The three-day conference was held under the theme: ‘Reforming Higher Education: Implication for Caribbean Administrators’.