JIS: Employees of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information are now able to access tertiary training through the Ministry’s First Degree Upskilling Initiative.
The engagement will enable employees to attain a bachelor’s degree relevant to their fields, through partnerships forged with established tertiary institutions offering University Council of Jamaica (UCJ)-accredited programmes.
The Ministry will offset 50 per cent of the tuition for each employee, which will be treated as a staff scholarship, while partner institutions are being asked to fund the remaining cost.
The initiative, which was formally launched on Tuesday (November 27) at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, is already being offered through a collaboration the Ministry has forged with its first stakeholder partner, Excelsior Community College,
Sixty-seven staff members are currently pursuing bachelor’s degrees in business studies.
Other programmes offered under this partnership include Human Resource Management, Business Administration, and Management Information Systems.
Discussions are under way between the Ministry and other institutions that have been approached to partner on the initiative.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dean-Roy Bernard, who brought greetings on behalf of Portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, said upskilling is imperative in ensuring that Jamaica capitalises on the growth in investments and jobs being generated in traditional and non-traditional sectors.
“It does not make sense to have the jobs and the capital investment but you do not have the labour to use those faculties of production to create and expand economic activity. The people resources are critical,” he stated.
Mr. Bernard contended that consequent on the prevailing rapid technological advancements, what was considered best practices in some areas three years ago is now outdated.
“Therefore, we have to quickly upskill and retool our workers and workplaces… if we are to take full advantage of growth in mining, tourism, business process outsourcing, animation, logistics and shipping, agriculture, robotics and other non-traditional sectors. We must employ skilled workers to be able to take advantage of this surge,” he underscored.
Meanwhile, the Ministry’s Senior Director for Human Resource Management and Development, Iolyn Donald, said a recent survey of the Ministry’s more than 3,000 employees showed that just over 350 or 11 per cent do not have a first degree.
“There is no lack of desire to pursue further studies. However, many have stressed that financial struggles are the biggest obstacles to completing their degrees. It is against this background that we introduced the First Degree Upskilling Initiative,” she said.
The National Labour Market Survey (2017) cites financing as the main obstacle to employees gaining the requisite skills and certification to fill vacancies and be appointed in their posts.
CAPTION: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dean-Roy Bernard, speaking at the official launch of the Ministry’s First Degree Upskilling Initiative at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on Tuesday (November 27). The programme provides assistance to the Ministry’s staff to attain a bachelor’s degree related to their field through partnerships forged with established tertiary institutions offering University Council of Jamaica (UCJ)-accredited programmes.