JIS News

A total of 380 Jamaicans will vie for supremacy in over 50 skill areas at Skills Jamaica 2005, which will be held at the National Arena from March 30 to 31.
This is the second staging of the competition, which is being hosted by the HEART Trust/NTA, through its tertiary arm, Vocational Training and Development Institute (VTDI). Staged every 18 months, the first competition was held in November 2003.
“The objective of the National Skills Competition is to showcase the skills, knowledge and positive attitudes in the Jamaican TVET (Technical, Vocational, Education and Training) system, as well as to promote TVET through healthy competition”, explained Edward Shakes, Director/Principal of the VTDI.
Mr. Shakes, who was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank session, said the competition also served to “showcase Jamaican institutions and firms contributing to the development of TVET; to develop and strengthen partnerships between TVET institutions and companies, and to create a benchmarking activity to assess the quality of the output of our TVET system and how we compare with the rest of the world”.
The competition, dubbed the “most unique and exciting live competition ever to be held in Jamaica’s history”, spans 10 occupational areas in key sectors of the Jamaican economy. These include: agriculture, apparel, art & craft, automotive, beauty services, building & construction, entertainment, hospitality/culinary arts, industrial maintenance and information technology.
It is open to individuals in public and private schools, TVET training institutions, community groups, as well as companies. Participants are placed in two categories: age 14-20 and age 21 and over.”Some 55 institutions and firms are set to compete through their apprenticeship/training programmes.
Among the institutions are the University of Technology (UTech), VTDI, HEART academies and high schools, so we will see a wide range of training providers participating in the competition”, Mr. Shakes said.
The selection process for the finalists began in early 2004 with over 800 persons islandwide applying for a place in the competition. A process of elimination on a regional basis was carried out, after which the final 380 were selected. “We have set minimum standards that they need to have in order to compete, because we are actually linking the level of our competition with that of World Skills. We are trying to bring an international standard, so that when the person performs well, we know that they could also do so internationally”, Mr. Shakes pointed out.
World Skills is a world wide not for profit membership association open to agencies or bodies, which have a national responsibility for promoting vocational education and training in their respective countries. There are 39 member countries, with the newest countries, Jamaica and Brunei, joining in 2004.
The World Skills competition offers a unique opportunity for young technical and skilled persons from all over the world to display their creativity and expertise, under the watchful eyes of judges, observers, and spectators.
The idea for the Skills Jamaica competition evolved from the International Vocational Training Organization (IVTO) World Skills competition. Four winners from the last Skills Jamaica competition held in 2003 will be competing in the May 2005 World Skills competition to be held in Helsinki, Finland.
“At the National Arena, patrons will see young Jamaicans performing and displaying their skills live and direct. As they walk through the Arena, they will actually see participants baking and cooking on industrial stoves right there. The persons who will be sewing, will have industrial machines”, he explained.
“Similarly, in the industrial areas, persons will be welding and operating machines. We will have a computer lab where they will do software development and graphic arts on the day,” he added. A number of Jamaican companies will also be assigned booths for product display.
Aside from the exposure and a chance to qualify for the World Skills competition in 2007, participants will be vying for gold, silver and bronze medals in each category. “Additionally, all participants will be given certificates of participation. There are also sectoral prizes that are given by various companies, as well as scholarships”, Mr. Shakes informed.
Some of the major sponsors of the 2005 Skills Jamaica competition include GraceKennedy, Anbell Media Agencies, Independent Radio Company – Power 106 and Music 99, the Urban Development Corporation, Cable & Wireless, Independence Park Limited, Logo Stitch, National Outdoor Advertising, Dehring, Bunting & Golding, and the Jamaica Information Service.
The VTDI is inviting all of Jamaica, particularly those at the corporate level, to support this year’s staging of the event.

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