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Minister of Education, Rev. The Hon. Ronald Thwaites, says developing a wellrounded workforce,capable of fulfilling the demands of the global job market,is critical to nation building.

To this end, he says one of the Ministry’s priority undertakings will be training persons with the requisite skills that will empower them to thrive in the 21st Century workforce/labour market.

“One of our main goals is to articulate our educational and training systems toward measured and measurable workforce needs in the society,” he said.

The Minister was speaking at the opening of the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica’s (HRMAJ) conference, at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel on November  21.

Rev.  Thwaites emphasised that  the creation of a ‘workforce needs projection’ is also paramount in identifying the jobs that will be needed in the future. He said this  venture will have to be a collaborative approach, and urged members of the HRMAJ to partner with the Government in identifying these areas.

The Minister  pointed out that billions are spent on education each year, so the nation’s future leaders should be trained in areas deemed critical.

Citing the importance of technical and vocational skills,  Rev. Thwaites said the local and international job markets are demanding persons with such training. He added  that there should be a balance between academic competences and technical and vocational skills.

On another matter, the Minister underscored the need for students to be fluent in English Language, adding that this is critical for the country’s progress.

“It is a reproach that a university has to have English classes. By the time you get to university, you are supposed to be adept in English, and there shouldn’t have to be any make up sessions in Mathematics either,” Rev. Thwaites said.

He  said that  the intention of the Ministry is “to do it right the first time…to make sure that we do not continue to waste the probably $20 billion per year that we spend on education system, on remedial work, rather than on exceptional advanced work, which is what Jamaica really needs in order to be a leader in the global workplace.”

Meanwhile,  President, HRMAJ, Michael McAnuff-Jones, suggested that there needs to be the development of a bilingual labour force as well as the development of incentives to retain jobs in the island. “As HRMAJ, we stand ready to share our experience with the Government on how we can tackle the threats to job preservation and job growth,” he added.

The conference, which is slated to end on November 23, is being held under the theme: ‘Engage People: Gain Phenomenal Success’.

It presents attendees with a diverse set of activities that will enrich their experience and provide useful leadership, people centric and innovative strategies for application on the job.

The HRMAJ, formerly the Jamaica Association of Training and Development (JATAD), began in 1978 when a small group of training and development practitioners decided to form an association dedicated to the training and improvement of such professionals and practitioners