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Apprenticeship a Solution to Youth Unemployment, Low Certification


JIS: The Labour Market Reform Commission has identified apprenticeship as one solution to some of the issues facing the labour market, such as high youth unemployment and low levels of certification.


This was disclosed by Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wayne Henry, at the opening of a two-day Labour Market Forum at the Spanish Court Hotel on February 14, to look at transforming the job market through apprenticeships.


The Government is looking to strengthen the national apprenticeship programme to ensure greater access to training, certification and employment opportunities for young people.


This will reduce the number of unattached youth and ensure that persons have job-ready skills.


Among the models being look at is the Australian system, which makes it mandatory for every youth who wants to transition into the formal economy to go through an apprenticeship programme that is supported by the private sector.


Dr. Henry noted that while various apprenticeship models exist, “it is for us as a country, Government, private sector, and educators, to define Jamaica’s apprenticeship programme within a coherent framework, with strong private sector buy-in and ownership.”


He said that apprenticeships must not only be seen as a job placement tool, but also a productivity tool that must be utilised to improve the prospects of the employer, worker and the economy.


“All of us as partners and stakeholders – public and private sectors – can contribute to empowering individuals and businesses, enhancing income security, and improving quality of life as vital pillars on the development landscape,” Dr. Henry said.


The Director General pointed to the need to ensure a certified workforce and for diversification of the programme offerings in educational institutions to include emerging occupational fields such as robotics, animation, criminology, forensic science, entrepreneurship, logistics management and aeronautical engineering and mechanics.


Meanwhile, the Director General said it is anticipated that the main outcomes of the forum will be to further the dialogue among critical stakeholders on the strengthening and expansion of the apprenticeship programme and to engage the private sector and industry groups in delivery and ownership.


He added that the insights of the team of panellists with their wide range of experiences with apprenticeship programmes locally and globally will help to broaden Jamaica’s perspective and help to chart the desired course.


“It is my sincere hope that the (forum) is enlightening and rewarding as we advance and improve our National Apprenticeship Programme and, by extension, Jamaica’s labour market to meet our national sustainable development imperatives,” Dr. Henry said.


The Labour Market Forum involved collaboration among the PIOJ, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the HEART Trust/NTA under the theme: ‘Apprenticeship for the XX1 Century: A Model for Latin America and the Caribbean’.


Participants engaged in discussions around transforming the labour market to promote social and economic development through apprenticeships.


The Labour Market Reform Commission is comprised of representatives of trade unions, employers, academia, and the public sector and is supported by a Secretariat, which operates out of the PIOJ.


It was established to assess the state of the labour market and propose policy prescriptions to facilitate reform to create a labour force that is adaptable to labour market information; increase the knowledge, skills and productivity of the worker; provide the worker with adequate social protection; and protect the employability and life earnings of the worker.


CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid (centre); Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr. Wayne Henry (left); and General Manager of the Inter-American Development Bank, Country Department Caribbean Group, Therese Turner-Jones, enjoy a light moment at the opening of a two-day Labour Market Forum at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on February 14.