LETTER OF THE DAY - Has HEART lost its way?
The Editor, Sir:
I write from the standpoint of a totally dissatisfied employer who is forced to pay three per cent of my gross earnings towards the HEART Trust/NTA. I am extremely concerned that the fund to which I contribute, is, in recent times, not being used to develop the Jamaican workforce.
I see where over $90 million from HEART Trust/NTA is going into an extended secondary school fifth form project and another $400 million into the Consolidated Fund to buoy the coffers of the Government. This is after tax on general consumption, tax on gas, tax on electricity, tax on property, tax for education, taxes, taxes, and more taxes. After all of this, little or no attention is given to increasing the profitability and competitiveness of the workforce through training.
Since the departure of eight senior executives (Robert Gregory, Donald Foster, Christine Dickson-Edwards, Paulette Dunn-Smith, Clover Barnett, Thomas McArdle, Michael Ho-Sue and Sonia-Bennett-Cunningham) all within months of each other, the organisation has been rocked by several unpopular transfers and movements of managers and officers across departments, some even to the Ministry of Education where they are apparent misfits. Where is the board in all of this?
Leadership and management are lacking and I see no clear direction and certainly no consultations from the National Training Agency especially in this period of recession. How can the training agency reach out or come to my aid as an employer or is it that the top management is unapproachable? Are staff immobile and afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal? Is this why so many are leaving the organisation?
Where is the leadership?
Can someone explain what is really happening at HEART? Where is the leadership that it should be displaying for the rest of the region - a position it held until recently? Where are its advisors?
Where are the experts, or have they all been dispensed with? Why is the National Qualifications Register put up for the use of the Jamaican public and paid for from employer's three per cent tax fund now blocked from use by the Jamaican public? I am aware that the standards that are on the NQR are developed from those of Australia. We share ours with the region as does Trinidad and Barbados. So why are we being denied use?
Why can we not have access to information that is paid for by employers? Why is there no board for the National Council on TVET, or for that matter the Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI) after two years? These are entities that support and enable the development of a productive workforce.
Can the prime minister, the board or the minister of education speak up? Who is to be held accountable? We need answers. Our youth and the region are looking on. We need answers.
I am, etc.,
VERY CONCERNED EMPLOYER