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Education Minister Engages Tertiary Institutions on Affirmative Action


JIS: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, has engaged tertiary institutions in a discussion about the implementation of an affirmative action policy for poor and vulnerable youth through a system of bonded scholarships.


The Minister said he has already started a conversation with the University of the West Indies (UWI), in which the university expressed a willingness to start a programme in which the State would fund tuition for the first person of a poor household who matriculates.


Senator Reid said this initiative would be for persons pursuing a degree programme that is aligned with the country’s strategic direction, particularly as it relates to expanding the global services outsourcing sector.


The Minister was addressing a forum with stakeholders in the education sector, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, yesterday (March 27), to discuss how institutions must restructure to best meet the growing business process and knowledge outsourcing needs of the labour market.


“I am going to shake up the education system. We are going to have to find a way to ensure that the same students who we are taking from the margins, that we find a path for them,” he said.


Senator Reid, meanwhile, urged tertiary-level institutions to seek to align their programmes with the imperatives set by the Government for the long-term growth and development of the country, in order to create the required skill sets.


“We are very clear that the BPO industry is one of those areas that we have to be prepared for, and in that regard, the entire education system needs to understand that we are changing the structure, the dynamics of that system,” he said.


Meanwhile, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Port Authority of Jamaica, Professor Gordon Shirley, called for the private sector to be more heavily integrated into the delivery of business process outsourcing (BPO) services and to collaborate with the HEART Trust/NTA in expanding the training opportunities for the sector.


Professor Shirley said he believes the Government’s target of creating 200,000 new jobs in the sector over the next three years is possible, but will require a new approach to training across the education sector.


“We have to be disruptive. We will have to think differently on how we build on what we have and augment those existing skill sets,” Professor Shirley said.


For his part, President of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica, Dr. Guna Muppuri, also called on leaders in the education sector and educators to be prepared to provide the workforce with the requisite skills for the global services sector.


He also proposed that the development of a BPO University be considered, to provide the personnel for the market.


CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid (centre), responding to questions during a forum on March 27 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, to engage stakeholders in the education sector on how to align programmes to meet the labour force needs to expand the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector. He is joined by President of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica, Dr. Guna Muppuri (left) and President and CEO of the Port Authority of Jamaica, Professor Gordon Shirley.