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Growth & Jobs | Hope for apparel sector - nearly 100 youth being trained to enter industry

Published:Friday | August 4, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
In this file photo Denworth Finnikin, (right) National Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) director at the Ministry of Education, is in discussion with State Minister in the National Security Ministry, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr.

Having close to 100 young people enrolled at the HEART Trust's Garmex Academy recently, to pursue studies in garment construction, has given Denworth Finnikin, National Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) director at the Ministry of Education, some hope that there will be a massive resurgence in the apparel industry.

In an interview with The Gleaner the former senior director of workforce development and employment at HEART, admitted that there was a downturn in the garment manufacturing industry due to lack of interest and the limited access to jobs.

"The truth of the matter is that the psyche of our people and culture, somewhat, is a part of the downturn we saw some years ago. We weren't taught to be entrepreneurs and so persons in fashion weren't being employed on a large scale. What is emerging now, is a number of small entrepreneurs creating a niche and in creating that niche, it now requires persons to do the work," he told The Gleaner.

"The fashion industry certainly compliments the tourism industry and it brings out our creativity as a people. What we need to do is to get the raw material in at a lower cost, so that we can be competitive."

He said that the Government was intent on reaching young people especially, with the aim of stirring their interest in vocational areas.

"The Government had started with HEART, through Garmex (Academy), with a course in sewing. About 100 young persons have started about two weeks ago. Garmex itself, operates a fashion designing programme, but the reality is, while we have a demand for custom-made clothes, because of the mass production coming from elsewhere, it puts pressure on local manufacturers. I know there will be a discussion with the sector very soon," he said.

Demand for persons in garment construction trending up

"The Ministry of Education has seen the need though to develop, technical and vocational education and training. As such, with a new revised curriculum, which will be rolled out in September 2017, we will see a wide range of skill or exposure to it. What we are trying to do is to stimulate interest from a younger age that more persons would want to go in these areas because the fact is, these are the technical areas that are going to make persons gain employment," Finnikin told The Gleaner.

"It's much better (in comparison to previous years). There are one and two persons who are calling in now for tailors to do alterations and so. The demand was very low up to recently but it's trending up."