RJRGLEANER Honour Awards 2019 | Certifying Jamaica one person at a time
Recipient: HEART Trust/NTA
The Human Employment and Resource Training Trust/National Training Agency (HEART Trust/NTA) was established in 1982 by the late former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.
There is no question that the agency has evolved in its more than three decades of operation, and its recent merger with three institutions has classified it as Jamaica’s super training agency.
The HEART Trust/NTA is the recipient of this year’s RJRGLEANER Honour Award in the category of Education.
The agency offers a gamut of training in the areas of hospitality, beauty, construction, automotive, agriculture, information technology, among other areas.
HEART merged with the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), the National Youth Service and the Apprenticeship Board in 2017.
The HEART Act, first passed in 1982, was amended to solidify the merger, and Managing Director Dr Janet Dyer recalled it in specific terms.
“The act was amended and passed in the Jamaican Senate on December 6, 2019, at 3:08 p.m.,” she said in an interview at the agency’s corporate office, which is named in honour of Seaga.
The school-leaver’s training programme was its primary offering in the first few years of operation and then they gradually added the Solidarity programme – an entrepreneurial component where youths were able to get grants to set up small businesses.
“They were not able to sustain the businesses due to lack of training in entrepreneurship skills, so with that came the advent of the academies, the first of which was the Stony Hill Academy,” she said.
What started out as one training centre on the grounds of a former juvenile remand centre has multiplied into 28 institutions across the island.
HEART has been able to create administrative efficiencies by employing various mechanisms; chief among them is their governance structure.
“For everything that we do in the organisation, we have our policies and our guidelines that govern the operations of the organisation. We have been very frugal in our spending, and through that we have been able to introduce the balance scorecard mechanism that we use to track our progress on a monthly basis,” Dyer explained.
“The beauty of this merger is that it has allowed us to increase efficiencies. We have been able to take out the duplication of functions.”
A prime example is that HEART has an established literacy unit, while the JFLL was concentrated on literacy and numeracy.
“The final goal of this merger is to advance the human capital mandate – ensure that our young people in Jamaica become trained, certified, employable and employed,” the managing director said.
Through private-sector partnerships, the agency has also reduced costs that it would generally incur.
“We will say to them, ‘You have the equipment, you have the resources. Partner with us and we will give you a subsidy to assist with the training’,” she stated.
To date, 840,088 persons have been HEART-certified between 1982 and 2019.
Dyer credited the diversity of programmes offered and the introduction of a mobile training unit for the significant increase in the number of people who are HEART-certified.
Chef Karl Thomas was exemplified as one of the “brightest and best” that the agency has produced. Thomas started HEART with no Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects and moved up the ranks from a level one cook to the official chef for Jamaica’s athletic team.
“When we look at things like those, we know that the agency’s three per cent [levy by virtue of the HEART Act] was well spent, because it is being spent on the human capital that really needs that push to get ahead in life,” an exuberant Dyer said.
* The first managing director of HEART Trust/NTA was veteran educator and administrator, Dr. Joyce Robinson, in 1982.
* The Stony Hill Academy in St Andrew was once a juvenile remand centre dating back to the 1800s. It was the first academy to be opened by the HEART Trust/NTA.
* The Kenilworth Campus in Hanover sits on an old plantation, the Maggotty Top River Plantation. The ruins still stand as a testament at the academy.
* Current managing Director, Dr Janet Dyer, was the first Spirit of HEART recipient, given to the most professional trainee.
* In 2003, Jamaica, through the HEART Trust/NTA, was the first country in the English Speaking Caribbean to become a member of the World Skills Association and by extension, the first to participate in the association’s competition in Helsinki, Finland in 2005.
* In 2005, HEART Trust/NTA was selected as the Jamaica Employer’s Federation employer of choice.
* In 2003, Jamaica, through the HEART Trust/NTA became the first country in the world with a training institution (Runaway Bay Academy) that is green globe certified.
* HEART Trust/NTA became the only institution in the English Speaking Caribbean to have won the Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Award in 2005.
* As the agency with legislative responsibility for adult literacy, HEART Trust/NTA wants to make Jamaica become totally adult literate by 2030.
* The agency wants to have all programmes fully online by 2025.
* It wants to have National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) certification streamlined and accepted as part of the education system and not an appendage.
* It wants for every Jamaican who works in the tourism industry, locally and internationally, to become HEART Trust/NTA certified.