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CAP equips youngsters with critical skill sets

Published:Friday | December 16, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Ryan Simpson (left, foreground), principal of Belmont Academy, at the national Top School at the recent Career Advancement Programme (CAP) graduation ceremony in Montego Bay, St James, is congratulated by Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator Ruel Reid. Sharing the moment are students from the school, along with Meloney Rhynie (right), acting director of CAP.

The Career Advancement Programme (CAP) of the Ministry of Education,Youth, and Information (MOEYI) is having a meaningful impact on the lives of participants, according to Minister of Education, Youth, and Information Senator Ruel Reid.

"There is clear evidence that the CAP programme has rescued a lot of young people who, in the past, would have been turned out from schools, without a future and with nowhere to go," he said at a recent CAP graduation in Montego Bay, St James, where 1,235 students received certificates.

The programme targets students who completed secondary schooling without any formal certification and who did not matriculate to post-secondary level education or work.

The two-year programme is also aimed at developing the literacy and numeracy skills of learners, who are then better able to pursue career training in technical and vocational skills delivered by the HEART Trust/NTA.

The minister's views were supported by Chavin Hamilton, past student of the Western Hospitality Institute. "The Career Advancement Programme has helped me a lot. After fifth form, I did not know what to do next. My father saw the advertisement about CAP in the paper and told me about it. I wanted to become a chef, and since being involved in the programme, I have not regretted it," Hamilton shared.

The programme, which was first unveiled in Parliament in December 2009 by then education minister Andrew Holness, now has over 10,000 students enrolled for the 2016-2017 academic year.

With several levels of restructuring since it was launched, CAP is now designed to be the vehicle to extend the secondary curriculum by two years, providing opportunities for students, ages 16-18 years old with a labour market skill to identify, understand, choose, and prepare for careers and occupations of their choice.

Under the direction of former education minister Ronald Thwaites, the restructuring included improving efficiency and access to students.

The new thrust of the programme is being facilitated under the Compulsory Education Policy (CEP), which is to ensure that all children ages three to 18 are attached to and attending structured learning, education, and training programmes appropriate to their age and development.

The CAP is offered along three pathways : the General, Technical, and Traditional Technical. The General pathway is facilitated through the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, while the CAP Technical and Traditional Technical programmes are offered across 52 centres for the 2015-2016 academic year and to 110 for the 2016-2017 academic year. This includes high schools, private skills-development centres, and private and or public tertiary institutions.


Skills training


Students on the CAP receive skills training at the National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J) Levels 1 and 2 and City & Guilds Vocational programmes. Students who do not have passes in English A and mathematics at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level also sit the City & Guilds mathematics and english examinations in June each year.

NVQ-J is done twice per year with the main sitting in June. Students who were either deferred and or doing resits will do so in December. Also, students will do CSEC resits in mathematics and or english examination for the first time under the Career Advancement Programme this academic year.

Statistics indicated that a significant number of students were leaving high school with no certification at all and needed attention. Of the more than 51,600 students of grade-11 age in 2008, only 40,690 were actually in school.

According to Senator Reid, through the CAP, 80 per cent of graduating students from now on should, by age 30, have the equivalent of an occupational degree or higher.

"As an educator myself, I am particularly pleased with this programme. Like many teachers, I would much prefer to see students completing their education in one go in the regular time period allotted for secondary education," Reid said. "But I am well aware that that is not the path travelled by thousands of students each year. In fact, for a number of reasons, students need a second chance to make up on missed opportunities."

An important component of the CAP is that at the end of grade 13, students on Secondary Pathways 2 and 3 also have an opportunity to pursue the new Occupational Supervisory Certification that will allow them to acquire workplace competencies and skills or be ready for higher-level certification.

Meanwhile, Meloney Rhynie, acting director of the CAP, says, the reach will be extended to many young people who would otherwise become a part of the growing number in the unattached category.

"We are pleased with the transformation as we are seeing where the programme is actually changing lives. Quite a number of these students move on into other tertiary-level institutions as well as finding employment in different areas. It is still early days yet but we are seeing very good progression in terms of how the students are advancing," Rhynie said.

Since the implementation of the MOEYI CAP Technical Working Committee (TWC) in January 2014, improvement certification in numeracy and literacy has increased from 64 per cent in 2011 to 79 per cent in 2016.

Under the CAP, performance, in collaboration with NCTVET NVQ/CVQ, moved from a 69 per cent attendance rate in 2013 to a 79 per cent rate in 2015 and a 37 percent examination rate in 2013 to a 50 percent rate in 2015. There is hope for continued improvement.

"We are now putting them on a career path where they can now see how they can now advance their studies in different tertiary institutions. It is a major attraction for young people as it is actually helping them to improve their qualifications on a more long-term basis," Rhynie said.

CAP is administered through collaboration and coordination among a number of agencies, including the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), National Youth Service (NYS), HEART Trust/NTA, NCTVET, the Social Development Commission, the National Transformation Programme, teachers colleges, and community colleges, and other related agencies that are committed to helping Jamaicans, at whatever stage of life, to pursue career development.

- Article submitted by Ministry of Education, Youth and Information