HEART sparking development
Below is an edited address delivered by Dr Wayne Wesley, executive director of HEART Trust/NTA, at the recent launch of its Mobile Services at St Thomas Technical High School.
Many of you would be aware that the HEART Trust/NTA thrives on developing programmes and projects to expand our reach in the community. We also pride ourselves in maintaining relevance and undertaking activities which support the economic growth imperatives of the country.
Madam Prime Minister, you will recall that in 2014, you gave the HEART Trust/NTA a mandate to expand training access to rural communities. We have answered the call with this the launch of our Mobile Services. In this phase, we have outfitted and deployed the first mobile laboratory dubbed HEART SPARKS, a welding and fabrication unit and our mobile career counselling unit, Career Coach.
Both units will provide responsive and seamless delivery of services, almost literally at doorsteps of our customers.
HEART SPARKS is the first of three mobile laboratories to be rolled out this financial year. Two additional mobile laboratories, providing training in food preparation and electrical electronics maintenance/repairs and a second Career Services Unit will be operational by early 2016.
In addition to these initiatives, the HEART Trust/NTA, through its many partnerships, is implementing a number of other programmes to expand access to industry-led technical vocational education and training. Please permit me to share a few.
LABOUR MARKET INFORMATION
More than ever, we are tapping into available labour market information to inform our training and certification programmes so that our graduates possess skills which are relevant and in demand.
In our last financial year, more than 70 per cent of HEART graduates were aligned with labour market information, and much of this success was because of the implementation of a Labour Market Information Portal and the first phase of the National Diagnostic and Referral System.
Through the use of our labour-market intelligence, we identified a need for training and certification in alternative energy, animation, business process outsourcing and hospitality.
TVET IN SCHOOLS
We are working closely with the Ministry of Education and school principals to further advance our technical vocational education and training (TVET) in schools. This programme has a mandate to expose as many of our young learners to the fundamentals of TVET to qualify them for at least Level One certification in the National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica - NVQJ, which is an internationally recognised certificate of competence.
Many of the students have been able to hone skills in hospitality, agriculture, auto mechanics, cosmetology, visual arts, business administration, garment construction, and electronics, among a plethora of other TVET disciplines. We are excited that participating schools are constantly achieving competency rates of above 90 per cent.
What does this mean? It signals that many of our graduates are trained and certified to work in these areas, or to even start their own businesses.
CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CERTIFICATION
In providing greater training opportunities, we have also created programmes for individuals to be certified in areas where certification was previously non-existent.
Our National TVET Engineering Institute (NTEI) is one of our institutions that has been swift in responding to growing demands for qualified professionals in the local renewable energy sector. Jamaica stands to benefit from a workforce trained and ready to meet labour-market demand in both wind and solar energy resources.
MEETING MARKET DEMAND
In recent months, there have been strong indications of significant investments in the tourism, business process outsourcing and logistics sectors. The HEART Trust/NTA will be partnering with other entities and groups to prepare the workforce for the employment opportunities which will undoubtedly accompany these investments.
The National Training Agency continues to work to improve and expand other important initiatives, including:
1. Programmes aligned to economic development goals.
2. Focus on persons with special needs.
a. Eighteen persons graduated last year (2014-15) with NVQJ Level 3 in massage therapy.
b. Eight persons graduated this year (2015-16) with NVQJ Level 1 in customer service.
c. Granville and Petersfield VTCs - training early childhood practitioners to work with special-needs students at NVQJ - Level 3.
d. Partner with Abilities Foundation to deliver NVQJ Level 2 training in, data operations, furniture making and housekeeping.
3. Increasing access to training (flexible and online).
4. Registered Apprenticeship Programme.
5. Provision of higher learning opportunities.
Strategic repositioning of the Vocational Development Training Institute (VDTI) as the TVET Professional Development Institute focusing on capacity building in new and emerging areas for the National TVET System (both private and public training providers.