Recruiters pull plug
Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer
Citing bureaucratic roadblocks and a lack of organisational support from the Jamaican Government, a company contracted to source employment in Canada for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) here in Jamaica has vowed to cut all ties with the island in six months.
Professor Michael Patterson, spokesperson for the recruiters, Marmicmon Integrated Marketing and Communications (Marmicmon IMC), has questioned the Govern-ment's commitment to stemming unemployment, and said he was fed up with its penchant for lip service instead of tangible assistance.
He warned that the recruitment agency would be taking its service to another country after March 2011 when the last cohort is expected to complete its studies.
Last year, a number of students enrolled in the programme were promised full-time job offers by Canadian employers, provided that they successfully complete their studies. Marmicmon IMC was credited for wooing the employers to Jamaica.
Marmicmon was contracted in 2009 after the Government of Jamaica and the Centre for Nursing Studies in Canada forged a partnership to provide training for students through the Pre-University School in Kingston and Montego Bay, using the Canadian curriculum.
Patterson, who was one of the presenters at the graduation ceremony for 77 LPNs on Saturday, cited the Government's failure to provide direct access to hospitals and other facilities for students to complete their clinicals as one of the major snags that have put a dent in the programme. According to Patterson, the lack of support became even more evident when officials in the health ministry turned down offers from his Canadian partners, who stated their intention to upgrade several "dilapidated" health facilities across the island so students could have access to conduct their clinicals.
He said overtures to have the Nursing Council of Jamaica assess the curriculum were met with a cold shoulder.
"The bottom line is there was nothing happening from the Jamaican Government or the bureaucrats to assist (the programme).
"Come March, we will have completed all the programmes in Jamaica and that's it, we are pulling out. We will move the programme to a different country where the governments are not interested in politics but more interested in providing education and jobs for people," Patterson said.
The Marmicmon liaison also accused the Government of reneging on its responsibilities under a memorandum of understanding, charging that despite a shortage of licensed practical nurses in Canada, the North American government had no intention of lowering its standards.
"The Canadian government and the officials in Canada in the form of the regulators ... will not be complicit in allowing one foreign graduate to enter the health system when they are not suitably qualified. We must meet the standard which is equal to study in a Canadian institution," he said.
"The support that programmes like these need from the Jamaican Government is not handshakes, it's not platitudes, it is direct access to the facilities that will allow students to complete their programme," Patterson said, adding that a number of the students would have finished their studies earlier if they had had access to facilities to do clinicals.
When The Gleaner contacted Health Minister Rudyard Spencer for comment yesterday afternoon, he said he could not speak on the issue and referred the newspaper to Labour Minister Pearnel Charles. Efforts to contact Charles proved futile, as he was attending his mother's funeral.