Degree holders flock to HEART
Over the last three years, the number of degree holders who have registered for skills-training programmes at the Human Employment and Resource Training Trust/National Training Agency (HEART Trust/NTA) has increased by 44 per cent.
Data obtained from the agency shows that 936 persons with degrees registered for skills training at its facilities last year. That is up from 824 in 2014 and 649 in 2013.
Last year, 49,906 persons applied for training with the HEART Trust/NTA.
According to the agency, the increase in the number of degree-holding applicants has largely been attributable to a positive change in how the organisation is perceived.
"Technical vocational education and training (TVET) has gained prominence in the last decade as a tool for productivity, self-reliance, and sustainable social and economic development. This awareness of the importance of TVET has resulted in an increased demand for the services offered by the HEART Trust/NTA," the agency said in response to questions from The Gleaner.
GOOD SERVICE DELIVERY
The agency has also pointed out that its quality of service delivery has contributed to its positive image.
A 2015 customer service survey, commissioned among applicants by the agency, gave a 78 per cent rating to service quality. The survey among trainees and graduates gave a service quality rating of 84 per cent.
"It is also important to note that the range of products and services provided by the HEART Trust/NTA has evolved to serve the expanding needs of the changing customer base," the agency said.
A reduction in fees has also had a positive impact.
In 2010, the cost for Level 3 commercial food preparation, early childhood development, and food and beverage restaurant service were $28,000, $30,000 and $15,000, respectively. Since 2014, those tuition fees were removed and a $5,000 administrative fee adopted for all Level 3 programmes. The Level 1 and 2 administrative fee is $3,000.
The agency has argued that the increase in the number of degree holders accessing its services has not disadvantaged non-degree holders.
"The HEART Trust/NTA has always been an inclusive organisation, and our recruitment strategies support this. We accept that the demand for programmes is significant, and many of our training programmes are heavily oversubscribed. It is for this very reason that we have included the expansion of access to training in our strategic priorities," the agency said.