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HEART defends training programmes amid scathing audit

Published:Monday | October 12, 2020 | 12:09 AM

The HEART/National Service Training Agency Trust has sought to defend its programmes in the wake of a damning report by the Auditor General’s Department, tabled more than a week ago that claimed that the Trust did not deliver value for money in terms of rate of certification from expenditure for the past five years.

HEART, in a statement issued last Wednesday, said that the socio-economic circumstances of many trainees made them more vulnerable to joblessness. The ability to gain employment was a key index of the value of some courses.

“As an example, it is entirely feasible for a mother of two, who enters one of our entry Level 2 programmes in food preparation with a duration of 18 months, to acquire modularised skill components after three to six months in the programme to find gainful employment at a hotel or restaurant that provides well-needed income, reduces personal stress, and gives her the time and space to complete her studies and training, even as she contributes to the national GDP,” HEART said in its statement.

SPENT $3 BILLION

HEART said that it had surpassed its traditional TVET service offerings to offer a range of social training programmes and services in support of increasing numbers of persons who need remediation, literacy, numeracy, prosocial mentalities, and conflict resolution skills to function in the society.

In the statement, HEART disclosed that it spent more than $3 billion between FY 2014-15 and FY 2018-19 on social training interventions, funding and operating programmes to “rescue unattached youth from falling between the cracks of society and into criminal activities” and to place them in apprenticeships.

“As the auditor general accurately pointed out HEART, ‘despite significant efforts’, achieved a 45 per cent rate of certification against the set target of 70 per cent certification from training programmes, a key performance indicator that the agency has kept in place to continuously challenge itself to meet the visionary goal of a fully certified Jamaican workforce,” it said.

The statement further said that HEART is also addressing the concern raised by the auditor general with respect to the low certification levels and other suboptimal results by HEART-funded External Training Providers, which are now under the supervision of an expanded Monitoring and Evaluation Department with additional support from six regional directors and 15 parish managers with fully resourced teams.