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The Ministry of Labour and Social Security, is to sign two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), with Okanagan College, the Economic Development Commission (EDC), and other interests in Canada, to facilitate training, upgrading, and placement of a number of Jamaican students in that country.
Speaking at last week’s post-Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Faith Innerarity, informed that the proposed MoUs resulted from discussions which a Ministry delegation, led by portfolio Minister, Pearnel Charles, held with employer groups and training institutions in Alberta and British Columbia, during a visit to Canada in August.
Mrs. Innerarity explained that the meetings with those groups, as well as with the Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, were aimed at identifying job opportunities for skilled Jamaican workers, noting that they have “implications for the solution of Jamaica’s unemployment problems.”
The first MoU, to be signed with Okanagan College and the EDC, will facilitate the training of Jamaican students participating in a work study programme.
“Under this programme, 20 students from each trade are scheduled to depart Jamaica every six to eight weeks. Currently, the focus is on culinary and automotive repair workers. However, it is expected that by the beginning of 2009, the pilot phase would be completed, and the programme would be expanded to several other areas,” Mrs. Innerarity said.
These areas include: carpentry, welding, electrical works, heavy duty mechanics, automotive service technicians, auto body technicians, automotive painting technicians, hospitality support workers, and commercial transport drivers.
The Permanent Secretary disclosed that a number of Jamaicans have already participated in the programme, adding that by early next year, “180 students would have departed for British Columbia, as part of this programme.”
Mrs. Innerarity said the Jamaican delegation also discussed the development of a second MoU for the upgrading and placement of over 1,000 practical nurses in British Columbia, over a two-year period. To this end, she informed that the Okanagan College’s Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) curriculum, would be made available to the Portmore and Brown’s Town Community Colleges, as well as the Pre-University College of Jamaica.
“This will ensure that our practical nurses, who are below the standard of British Columbia, would be brought up to their (British Columbia) standard. So, once they have completed their training in Jamaica, then job opportunities would be identified for them to be placed in British Columbia,” she explained.
Mrs. Innerarity also disclosed that a delegation from British Columbia, is scheduled to visit Jamaica later this month, to conduct an assessment of the work study programme. She added that candidates from various sectors are expected be interviewed, pointing out that this “is with the intention of expanding job opportunities.”