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KINGSTON – Chairman of the National Council on Technical, Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET), Ruel Reid, says that Jamaica must place greater focus on vocational education as a critical component in building a workforce of international quality.

He noted that countries such as Germany, France, Australia, Japan, and China are growing rapidly into the industrialised age because their education systems have facilitated workforce training and development.

“It is important that your education system is reflective of what is needed in your economy…when you look at Jamaica with all this endowment of human resources and lack of industry linkage…technical education is far more important in Jamaica because we have a capacity in industrial development, which many other countries don’t have,” Mr. Reid stated as he addressed the NCTVET's 2010 quality academy awards ceremony on March 29 at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.

According to the NCTVET chairman, exposure to vocational education will ensure that students are gainfully employed after graduation, either full-time or while continuing their education or training.

He noted that the Government’s Career Advancement Programme (CAP) seeks to ensure that students leaving secondary school are literate and numerate, and have some form of technical and vocational qualification for post-secondary placement.

Mr. Reid said that universities, going forward, will have to build into their programmes and courses, systems to facilitate greater technical competence “to ensure that graduates not only have the cognitive skills and knowledge but also the competence to deliver and  hit the ground running”.

If this is not done, he said, employers will have to expend resources for the training of staff.

Noting the importance of the NCTVET quality awards, he said the occasion serves to signal to Jamaica that technical skills are critical in meeting the demands of the 21st Century.

The quality awards serves to recognise Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs) that have exemplified quality in their management systems and have made continuous improvement in their operations; to present certificates of accreditation to new ATOs; and recognising excellence in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system.

The 2010 Quality Award went to Garmex HEART Academy in recognition of excellence in its Quality Management System. Garmex also won sectional awards for Management and Leadership, and Customer Focus.

The Special Achievement Award went to Vere Technical High School, while InfoServ Institute of Technology and the Newport Vocational Training Centre, won the awards for Best Physical Resources in the areas of Information Technology and Welding, respectively.

Newport also received the Management of Information and Documentation award, with the Process Management award going to Junction Vocational Training Centre. The Quality Representative of the Year was Marlene Green from Enterprise-Based Training.

NCTVET is a national body established to accredit training programmes, award National Vocational Qualifications of Jamaica (NVQJ) certification to individuals, who have demonstrated competence in vocational skills as well as academic subjects.

                                                                                              

By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter