President of the Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF), Wayne Chen, has identified a structured education system, backed by sound parenting, as an effective strategy to create a globally competitive workforce.
"We have the immediate challenge of creating a globally competitive workforce…we believe that the roots to the solution lie in our education system, meaning that our curriculum has to develop the competencies, skills and attitudes that are in concert with a globally competitive workforce," Mr. Chen outlined to JIS News.
In this regard, the President cited the need for entrepreneurship to be included in the school's curriculum from the primary level, noting that this will encourage children to "unleash their creative energy."
"There is an opportunity for us in Jamaica to impart entrepreneurial skills at a much earlier level. I do not see anything wrong with schools starting small enterprises, whether a school garden or kitchen garden, some sort of one day per month activity where the class will get together and prepare some drink and some food and sell it to raise money for a class project," the President suggested.
He stressed that teaching entrepreneurial skills from an early level is a longer term solution to unleashing genuine entrepreneurial talent in the country.
Another critical issue, he pointed out, is parenting, as "creating youngsters who have a love for learning and a desire for continuous self-improvement does not begin at school but at home."
The President said it is important for parents and caregivers to properly raise and guide children and instill the right values.
Mr. Chen argued that the values instilled through better parenting and having a structured education system is the beginning to a long-term process of having enlightened employers and productive employees.
The President pointed to the immediate need for strong interventions and a co-ordinated approach by policymakers and stakeholders as it relates to long-term solutions to creating a globally competitive workforce.
He pledged the support of the JEF in working with organisations to ensure that individuals are valued, respected, given the tools, encouragement and the structure to perform at their best.