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HEART Sparks: National training agency launches mobile unit

Published:Sunday | November 29, 2015 | 2:22 PM
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller addresses the gathering at the launch of the HEART Trust National Training Agency’s mobile welding laboratory and career-counselling units, held in Duckenfield, St Thomas, last Friday.
The HEART Trust National Training Agency’s mobile Career Coach bus.


The HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA) last week launched its mobile welding laboratory dubbed HEART SPARKS and its mobile career-counselling unit called Career Coach.

The services were born out of the 2014 mandate by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to increase access to training and career counselling for rural communities.

Simpson Miller, who was in attendance alongside Education Minister Ronald Thwaites and Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr Fenton Ferguson, says a search of the labour market and various survey findings show that there is a need for certain skills in various occupations across the country, adding that everything should be done to provide people living in rural areas with these required skills.

According to her: "I have been encouraging ministers and agencies of government to take their services and information to the people in the communities that they live. I'm sure this is one way of ensuring that our people remain engaged in the building of our nation."

The HEART Trust/NTA mobile services initiative is the first of its kind in Jamaica, and the people of St Thomas could not suppress their pleasure and satisfaction.

One of the attendees of the ceremony told The Gleaner that not only is she pleased, but she was also pleasantly surprised that the launch took place in St Thomas.

"We are the forgotten parish, always coming last in everything. I'm really happy to see this happening. It shows that we have potential and also gives our young people a chance to succeed," she said.

The project is in accordance with the Government's strategic human-capital development, job creation and economic growth priorities, which places emphasis on education and training for youth and also forms part of the strategic priorities of the HEART Trust/NTA, which include the expansion of access to training and certification and the realignment of operations to facilitate the development of a flexible and responsive technical vocational education and training system.

Two additional mobile laboratories targeting untrained and uncertified workers within the hospitality and tourism sector and industrial electronics are also said to be launched by the end of the fiscal year.

HEART Trust/NTA says the choice of training programmes is supported by labour-market intelligence, indicating where localised demand for skilled workers is required.