Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Growth strategy 101 - Find missing link between business training and society's needs

Published:Tuesday | November 22, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Graduates of the University of the West Indies, Mona, during the 2012 graduation ceremony.
A section of UTech’s graduating class in 2009.

A missing link between how students are trained in business and what the society needs is an issue that Dr Charles Douglas, chief executive officer at the Jamaica Productivity Centre, believes must be addressed if the country is to see more growth and development in the economy.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Douglas made reference to a programme that his organisation has embarked on in secondary schools, with the aim of inculcating a culture of productivity within the society. He also stressed that a critical factor in going forward has to see universities and businesses engaging in more partnerships, noting that education is the glue that will enhance the success of any business.

"I believe that we really need a paradigm shift in our education. We need to produce people who want to create, make and produce things - the link between what the real world needs and what the universities and high schools are producing, I have some questions about it. We have to rethink what it is that the society needs, the kind of the worker the society needs and the kind of worker the society is producing," he said.

"I think the hands-on approach is important as well as the critical thinking and the problem-solving skills. Also, at the university level and at the graduate level, as a product of an overseas university, I find that the universities and the businesses in Jamaica are not working closely enough. In the [United] States, for example, [in the event that] a company is faced with a problem - whether it be a technology problem, a research problem; they take it to a university and the university then comes up with a solution," he said.

He shared that based on interactions they have had with some secondary-school students, there is still a culture shift that is needed for young people to succeed in business.

"I think we need to get the message out there that productivity is beneficial to every single person. People tend to think that it's just about a particular company, but it's about everybody. We have a programme for productivity as part of the public education campaign, in education institutions. We focus a lot on the secondary schools and the first response in most cases at the secondary level is, 'that's more relevant for my parents'," he said.

"Even here we have a technical assistance service unit. So when firms invite us to their businesses, we go into their organisations and we will do an audit which will suggest recommendations. I find that for some reason, we don't do enough in terms of partnerships to get implementation. We have some success stories where that has happened, but I believe we have to multiply those stories very rapidly. That's going to be one of ours going forward," he told The Gleaner.