Train students to meet our economic needs, says Reid
Education Minister Ruel Reid believes that in order to get maximum economic benefits, the education sector must focus on providing prospective university graduates with the type of training that suits the demands of the local labour market.
Speaking at the University of the West Indies' (UWI) Schools of Education Biennial Conference's opening session at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay, St James yesterday, the education minister stated that of the recent graduates, only a very small number are equipped to go into the fields of information and communications technologies (ICT) and engineering, where job opportunities now exist.
"Forty-two percent of university enrolment is largely in the discipline of management and accounts, and 20 percent are pursuing educational and instructional training, but in the critical areas that we need, which is ICT and engineering, there is less than three per cent in each of those areas," Reid told the educators attending the conference.
"We need a lot more ICT and engineering graduates, not only in Jamaica, but across the Caribbean, because this is where we have to compete. The education system has to be in line with what the labour market is demanding if we are going to survive as a region."
And, in supporting the popular notion that many educated persons, who are qualified in fields where there are not many job opportunities, are turning to crime, Reid said that underscored the need to train persons in areas where they stand a good chance of securing jobs.
"Many graduates will use their training for crime because we did not provide them with the opportunities for full educational development. That is largely what you and I need to fight against if we want to make our country peaceful and prosperous," he added.
The four-day conference, which is being held under the theme 'Envisioning Future Education: Cross-Disciplinary Synergy, Imperatives and Perspective', was conceived to bring UWI's three schools of education together to discuss regional issues impacting the education sector.