JIS: The Government is redoubling its effort to ensure the nation’s workforce is equipped with technical and vocational skills to better meet the needs of the society.

 

This is according to Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr. Grace McLean, who said this is being achieved by “mainstreaming” Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) into the curricula, beginning at the early-childhood stage.

 

“It’s not an add-on; it’s not just something else you do. We understand that we cannot go forward as a people and really achieve the development that we need unless we ensure that our students, our people… have the relevant skills,” she said in a speech read by Acting Chief Education Officer, Winnie Berry.

 

The speech was delivered at the press launch for the Fourth International Conference on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the Caribbean, held at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies, Mona, on Tuesday (April 30).

 

Dr. McLean stressed that TVET is of greater importance now more than ever, “as we begin to venture into an era of increased industrialisation and interconnectedness”, adding that as a sector, TVET has been recognised as a critical area that will be a key driver in the improvement of the productive sector.

 

As such, she noted that the Ministry has continuously pushed for a greater commitment to the administration of TVET across both the secondary and tertiary education systems, and has been encouraging persons to participate in the building of the nation through new advancements in infrastructure, technology and communication.

 

“The Ministry has also been undertaking a TVET Integration Model, facilitated by our TVET Rationalisation project, which seeks to engage students from the secondary-school level in the skills, knowledge, attitudes, habits and values that are in demand in the society, and which, consequently, will contribute to the nation’s productivity goals,” she said.

 

The Integration Model being used by the Ministry in schools introduces young children to the concepts of TVET from the early-childhood level, and continues to build on this initiation through processes of induction, orientation, and exploration and specialisation right throughout the public education system

 

Dr. McLean noted that since the introduction of this programme, the Ministry has sought to provide support to a number of schools, through the provision of financial aid as well as supplying equipment and tools to schools seeking to increase the student uptake of TVET. In addition, labs have been outfitted and tools and other materials have been provided to facilitate the integration of TVET in schools.

 

She said that the HEART Trust/NTA has had an indelible effect on the direction and recognition of TVET and technical skills in Jamaica, and continues to collaborate with the Ministry to enhance the delivery of TVET, specifically at the secondary level.

 

“I am grateful to partners such as the School of Education, UNESCO, the Ministry of Tourism, other education institutions and partners for working with the Ministry to achieve its targets in integrating TVET across all levels,” she added.

 

The conference, themed, ‘Towards the 21st Century Economy: Principles, Strategies and Work Practice’, will be held from May 22 to 24 at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St. James.

 

The conference has attracted over 60 papers and 25 specially invited speakers from various countries. It will offer opportunities to stakeholders at all levels throughout the region to interact with international interests in identifying and exploring global principles, and to highlight strategies in the search for best practices that will benefit the region.

 

Special emphasis will be placed on repositioning TVET as a vehicle for the digital economy, TVET contributing to gross domestic product (GDP), TVET in entrepreneurship and youth empowerment, and treating with qualifications by examining the National/Regional Qualifications Framework.

 

The conference is being organised by UWI, in partnership with the Education Ministry, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), University of the Commonwealth Caribbean, Caribbean Maritime University, GraceKennedy Group and Sutherland.

 

It will receive sponsorship from Halston Limited, Port Authority of Jamaica, and the Caribbean Development Bank.

 

CAPTION: Acting Chief Education Officer, Winnie Berry, delivers a speech on behalf of Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr. Grace McLean, at the press launch for the Fourth International Conference on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the Caribbean, held at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies, Mona, on Tuesday (April 30).