Tue | Oct 27, 2020

HEART failure - No certificate awarded to 81% of students in CAP-YES programme

Published:Wednesday | September 30, 2020 | 12:20 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis.
Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis.

The Auditor General’s Department is reporting that records obtained from the HEART Trust have revealed that of the 687 participants who were enrolled in the Career Advancement Programme Youth Empowerment Solutions (CAP-YES) programme from 2014 to 2019, only 19 per cent, or 128 students, were awarded NCTVET certification.

CAP-YES was administered by the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) on behalf of HEART.

The National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) was established in 1994 to develop standards, accredit programmes, develop assessments, and award certificates and diplomas to persons who have demonstrated competence in vocational areas.

In a performance audit of the HEART Trust, the Pamela Monroe Ellis-led Auditor General’s Department said that only 45, or seven per cent, of the 687 participants gained employment.

Further, only 30, or 23 per cent, of the 128 trainees who completed the programme continued their training to the National Vocational Qualification Jamaica level two or above.

Monroe Ellis reported that HEART Trust had no record of participants receiving training and certification in the other industry-specific professional courses offered by CMU.

“HEART provided no evidence of the number of participants that were to be assisted in pursuing self-employment or business development opportunities,” the report, which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, stated.

According to Monroe Ellis, HEART entered an arrangement with the CMU for the implementation and management of the CAP-YES.

HEART initially budgeted $100 million to provide training to 600 participants.

However, Monroe Ellis pointed out that HEART did not demonstrate effective oversight and monitoring of the programme to satisfy itself that subventions and related expenditures were in keeping with the Project Charter and its own policy.

“The deficiencies in the oversight and monitoring of the programme contributed to HEART not achieving the desired objectives of the programme. Consequently, HEART was not able to demonstrate that it received value from $64.7 million in expenditure,” the auditor general said.

Among the objectives of the programme, HEART projected that 70 per cent of participants would achieve NCTVET certification. The CMU was also to offer certification in industry-specific courses and occupational areas.

In addition, at least 50 per cent of participants should have been got jobs within one year of completing the programme and a minimum of five per cent assisted in pursuing self-employment business development opportunities.

In June 2017, HEART disbursed an initial $25 million for the project after CMU’s acceptance of the terms and conditions for funding. However, the auditor general found no evidence that HEART satisfied itself that CMU complied with the established operating, reporting and expenditure control procedures, as stipulated in the Project Charter, before making further disbursements totalling $50 million to CMU.

Monroe Ellis said that her department reviewed five financial data-collection forms, which were prepared by CMU, and submitted to HEART, and found inconsistencies in the opening and closing balances, despite indications that HEART reviewed the documents.

“The financial data-collection forms indicated that funds provided for the programme were $128.9 million, and while we were able to verify the subvention disbursement of $75 million from HEART’s records, we were not able to verify the source of the other deposits of $53.8 million,” the report said.

Monroe Ellis said the audit was done to determine if HEART, during the period 2014-15 to 2018-19, was managing effectively its educational and skills training programmes to contribute meaningfully to Jamaica’s labour market.

The audit also sought to determine whether HEART and the country received value from the money spent on skills training programmes.

According to the report, despite an increase in the number of admissions over the five-year period, HEART’s certifications remained constant at a low rate.

Over the period under review, HEART certified less than half the number of trainees despite a reduction in the number of persons dropping out of the programmes. Of the 232,301 trainees, only 103,452 were certified, reflecting an average certification rate of 45 per cent as at June 10 this year.

Given the low certification rate of 45 per cent, HEART would not have yielded maximum value from training expenditure of $30.5 billion, over the five-year period, to deliver skills training programmes.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com