Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, says technical, vocational, education and training (TVET) will play a critical role in the economic advancement of the country.
He noted that with expanded TVET activities “particularly in agriculture”, the economy will become more developed as currently “we are hard pressed to find the range of skills we need to develop the sector”.
The Permanent Secretary was addressing a Partner Appreciation ceremony to recognise those organisations integral to the equipping and retrofitting of the Crooked River/Brae Head Skills Training Centre in Clarendon on August 11.
The organisations include: the European Union (EU), the Embassy of Japan and the Sugar Transformation Unit in the Ministry.
Mr. Stanberry added that finding persons with the skills set of livestock officer, veterinarian technician or agronomist is difficult, especially “when you go into our universities (and) half of the students are studying management and business and philosophy”.
He informed that the skills offered by the training centre such as bartending, apiculture (beekeeping) and general beauty therapy, all at HEART Trust/NTA level 2 certification, are not to be frowned upon, especially when the need arises for such skills.
Meanwhile, Mr. Stanberry emphasised that agriculture “must be a catalyst and stand at the centre of rural development”.
“We have not yet developed to a stage where we have found a replacement for agriculture as the main economic activity in places like Crooked River in Northern Clarendon and all over rural Jamaica,” he said.
Mr. Stanberry noted that there needs to be a renewed emphasis and focus on rural development.
Acting Executive Director of the HEART Trust/NTA, Jennifer Walker, noted that the centre is part of the mandate of her agency in providing greater opportunity for all Jamaicans to access TVET.
Ms. Walker said that the centre will “positively impact the lives of the community and surrounding areas”.
Member of Parliament for Northern Clarendon, Horace Dalley, who is credited with bringing the training centre to fruition to address the social and economic needs of the community, hailed the HEART Trust, EU and the Japanese Embassy for their contributions.
He also hailed the trainees for remaining committed to their area of study.
More than $10 million was spent by the Government of Japan through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots and Human Security Project to renovate and reconstruct the centre, which included the installation of bathroom fixtures, windows and door.
Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Masanori Nakano said education plays the most important role in materialising the human security concept.
“I can say without doubt that Japan remains committed to help those self-motivated young people by supporting their basic human needs, especially in training and education,” he said.
Mr. Nakano added that under the capable hands of the Executive Director of the HEART Trust/NTA, the Education, Youth and Information Ministry and other key stakeholders, the “foundation for the success and sustenance of the training facility will be laid and provided for”.
He further added that the Embassy stands ready to provide further support in any way it can.
For his part, Attaché and Programme Manager of the Rural Development and Environment Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Stefano Cilli, said his organisation is looking forward to more collaboration with Jamaica.
He noted that the EU believes in people and their empowerment all over the world and that “like Jamaicans, the EU believes in the importance of skills training to improve their quality of life”.
The Sugar Transformation Unit of the Ministry provided $7million to equip and refurbish the centre.