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Across the world, leaders of nations are continually engaged in pursuits, aimed at positioning their countries to maintain relevance within a globalised dispensation.
Increasingly, there is recognition of the need for focus in this regard, as the global platform continues to broaden to accommodate those capable of participating and surviving in a highly competitive environment.
The same is true of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), where the leaders of member states have been engaged in their own pursuits to keep pace with evolving developments. Initiatives, programmes, and provisions, such as the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), with its facility of free movement of skills, facilitation of travel, and implementation of the harmonised entry procedures for non-wage earners, as well as the recently signed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), and the CARICOM passport, readily come to mind.
Education, undoubtedly, also plays a crucial role in the facilitation process, and as such, much emphasis has been placed on this area. While much attention has been placed on facilitating the movement of professionals or those who will be pursuing studies in the more traditional fields such as medicine, law, banking, finance, and commerce, the need for focus on accommodating their counterparts with vocational skills backgrounds or inclinations, has also been holding sway throughout the region.
To this end, one significant initiative, which has resonated among CARICOM leaders for implementation, is a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) certification and accreditation.
Executive Director of Jamaica’s Human Employment and Resource Training/National Training Agency (HEART Trust/NTA), Donald Foster, says the CVQ will enable the holder to “access any country in CARICOM for work.” The CVQ, he explains, evolved as a requirement of the CSME, in keeping with one of its protocols for the free movement of labour throughout CARICOM.
“Naturally, there was a need for a mechanism to facilitate this free movement of labour. And so, HEART Trust/NTA, working with other NTAs in Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, through an organisation that was developed and launched in 2003, by the name of the Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies (CANTA). worked with CARICOM to establish this qualification called the CVQ,” the Executive Director informs.
He advises that the HEART Trust/NTA is a foundation member of CANTA, pointing out that former Executive Director, Robert Gregory, was the first President, adding that “we are a pillar…, so to speak.”
Mr. Foster explains that the qualification is underpinned by the Caribbean Qualifications Framework wherein, based on standards, certification ranging from Levels I to V, can be accorded, adding that “we are looking at expanding that up to Level VII.”
“That qualification is accepted and authorised by CARICOM, and persons in any of the islands in the Caribbean, can work towards achieving that qualification, which will give them that portability and mobility throughout the region. The CVQ will be accepted as bona fide certification to gain employment in any country,” he states.
Mr. Foster says the HEART Trust/NTA has been pivotal in the formation of CANTA, and the creation of the CVQ.
“HEART is the oldest national training agency in the Caribbean, and.has been providing leadership to many of the other countries to help them establish their own national training agencies (and) their own national training frameworks. (Additionally) for them to become a member of the Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies, so that they will be in a position to offer the Caribbean Vocational Qualification to their people. We (also) provided [leadership] in establishing the Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies, as well as the work that led to the development of the CVQ,” he boasts.
Mr. Foster informs that the agency is in the process of positioning its tertiary arm, the Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI), which is responsible for training the lecturers, instructors, and teachers, otherwise called learning facilitators, to become a regional institution to upgrade Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) professionals in the region. In so doing, he adds, those countries will be better able to offer the CVQ in their countries.