JIS News

Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, says the government is pursuing a policy of mainstreaming technical and vocational based education, alongside traditional learning, to create a better rounded workforce, which is prepared to meet rigorous employment demands and standards, both locally and globally.
Speaking on October 5 at the official opening of the Jamaica National Skills Competition and World Skills General Assembly, at the National Indoor Sports Centre, in Kingston, Mr. Holness argued that “for a long time we have treated skills as a lesser education to traditional education.”
“We cannot build a 21st Century society and economy without a robust and articulated skills training system to produce the skilled labour force for the industries of Jamaica and indeed the global labour market,” he emphasised.
The Minister said the government viewed the country’s membership in World Skills International with strategic importance, enabling the country to benchmark its labour force against the world’s best, “but more important, to give exposure and recognition to our skilled labour force in the global labour market.”
He said skills training was therefore an economic imperative for Jamaica. “We have recently launched the Career Advancement Programme, which places an additional 8,000 young persons under technical/vocational training in high schools,” he informed.
Mr. Holness further noted that as a country gifted in the creative arts, the government is interested in creating standards and protocols to support the development of a labour force for the creative industries.
“Having such standards and creative recognition by World Skills International would add value and marketability to the area of performance arts and performing skills,” he said.
In his address, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles said the Ministries of Labour and Education have a responsibility to restructure the curriculum in education and training, in order to produce more highly skilled, technical and vocational professionals.
“I want to make the call to our schools, for our counsellors to guide in career planning. Too many of our children go to technical and vocational schools because they say they couldn’t go to other schools. I want to see, under this Ministry of Education, that technical and vocational training is as good as medicine and any other profession,” he said.
Mr. Charles also noted the role that HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA) has played over the years in the training and certification of Jamaica’s workforce.
In the meantime, World Skills International President, Tjerk Dusseldorp, said he was pleased to be celebrating World Skills International’s 60th Anniversary in Jamaica. He said the Jamaican National Skills Competition 2010 is an important event and a special one on the calendar of World Skills International.
“We are here to join with you in celebrating your accomplishments and sharing your passion for skills with the youth of Jamaica,” he said. “Through World Skills, Jamaica now has a new platform on which I know you will demonstrate your commitment to skills excellence,” he added.
World Skills Jamaica, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and HEART Trust/ NTA will be hosting the General Assembly of World Skills International at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel in New Kingston from October 3 to 10.
Official and technical delegates representing the organisation’s highest decision making group from 53 member countries will meet to review the state of international technical vocational skills, and to hold a landmark leadership election.
The delegates, who are influential members from the public and private sectors in their respective countries, will meet with local business, academic and government leaders during their stay on the island.
During the meetings, the assembly will be given the task of approving the creation of a World Skills Foundation that will be responsible for advocacy to advance the World Skills cause globally.
Jamaica is the first country in the region to host the General Assembly, having edged Singapore for the bid with 27 to 19 votes.
Jamaica is also the first Caribbean country to join World Skills International in 2004. Selected skill sector winners from the National Competition will represent Jamaica at the World Skills International Competition in London, England, in 2011.
World Skills International is dedicated to the promotion and recognition of technical, vocational and application based education and training.

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