HEART Trust get high marks
While the HEART Trust/NTA is one of the main state development agencies residents say is having a positive impact in the region, stakeholders are nonetheless calling for the scale-up of the agency's itinerant community-based training programmes.
A statutory agency of the Ministry of Education, HEART was established in 1982 to finance and coordinate training programmes aimed primarily at creating a competent and competitive workforce, which is trained at internationally recognised standards.
One HEART graduate, now sous chef, Gary Kerr, said the organisation has done well in the past to prepare young people for the working world, but contended that the agency should resume full scale community-based training and outreach activities, particularly in deep rural areas.
"HEART has been good because they have facilitated growth of the economy in terms of preparing young people for employment. They used to have external training programmes on a high scale in community centres and churches in communities in the recent past and I would like to see them scale that up. There needs to be community based training where HEART takes the programmes to the people in their villages, for those who cannot necessarily make it to the central locations, like Kenilworth, or eve for example," Kerr said.
Andrew Bernard, a former Kenilworth HEART trainee, gave the agency top marks for helping young people to advance on their career paths.
"HEART has been doing a good job to get young people trained. A lot of youngsters are working especially in the hotel sector because of the training they have received from the agency," Bernard said.
In the 2014 to 2015 financial year, HEART introduced a national programme titled "Opportunities for Underserved Youths" to improve employment facilitation and widen training access to underserved youths and boost their productive engagement. The agency also engaged 528 apprentices in its revitalised Registered Apprenticeship Programme (RAP) which it says is geared towards meeting the needs of a modern economy particularly within service oriented industries.
According to HEART's annual national report for the 2014 to 2015 fiscal year, the trust laid the foundation to provide training opportunities for 8,500 young people through the National Underserved Youth Programme, by initiating a pilot programme with 300 participants. The report said at the end of the 2014 to 2015 fiscal year in March 2015, the agency achieved 77 per cent of its annual certification target of 28,648.
A total of 16,775 certificates were issued for the successful completion of National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J) and Tertiary level Programmes and a further 5,202 trainees were certified under the category other, totalling 21,997 certified. HEART entities accounted for 19,612 or 89 per cent of total certification, while non-HEART entities, such as secondary schools and private providers, accounted for 2,365 or 11 per cent, the report said.