Career & Education

Offer special tuition for technical education — JMEA president

Sunday, September 29, 2019

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President of the Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association (JMEA), Richard Pandhoie has made a push for broadening access to technical education through what he described as special tuition rates for technical fields of study at the tertiary level.
The move, he argued, would serve to increase enrolment figures in those areas and avoid gaps in the labour market.
“[I'm] not talking about educating our people with only degrees; we need an influx of strong vocational skills,” he said.
“We should consider developing special tuition packages... We know that technical areas of study can be very expensive; hence, doing the necessary work to reduce some of those financial costs can serve as a significant factor that will propel more Jamaicans to consider enrolling in those areas of study,” the JMEA president continued.
Pandohie, who is chief executive officer and managing director of the Seprod Group, was speaking at the Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE) Engineers' Week 2019 at Knutsford Court Hotel, two weeks ago.
He based his argument on the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions 2016 report which indicated that only 31 per cent of the labour force age group has the requisite qualification to access further training on the job, meaning that “69 per cent of the 14+ years population was not certified at any level, and only 15 per cent of the workforce has tertiary education”.
“A part of the collaborative effort and focus on human capacity development must include grassroots operations that are youth and community- centric,” said Pandohie. “The truth is, if we begin to develop a solid foundation in our communities and schools, engaging persons about the science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] field and getting them involved, then we stand a better chance of securing our technical pipeline. This means that we will have a greater local talent pool that we can tap into for the future, resulting in the reduction of consistent gaps in areas that have great demand for high level technical skills, including engineering.”
He said further: “I believe that developing new ways of stimulating and incentivizing technical training initiatives will play a significant role, in improving and motivating our technical workforce. I propose that companies should be allowed to recover 50 per cent of their training budget through tax incentives. This approach must also see us providing opportunities that can enrich their learning from a global standpoint, for instance creating avenues for educational missions and project collaboration with countries outside Jamaica.”
As an example, Pandohie referenced Jiuguan Iron & Steel Company (JISCO) facilitating young people being trained as engineers in China for two years.
In his opinion, Pandhoie said, central to the plan of development is the importance of creating mutually beneficial alliances with entities on a local, regional and international level.
“This should also include the Jamaican Diaspora, which is the same size as the population of Jamaica but with significantly higher percentage of trained persons. This will help to improve our problem-solving capacity and mechanism as we tackle various local issues involving engineering and science, for example, waste management , smart farming and food security. I want to see us in a space were our local technical workforce can be competitive with other countries in Europe and Asia, who are known for their technical competence,” he explained.
Pandhoie's call for collaboration struck a chord with the JIE's Engineer's Week theme “Engineering A Collaborative Approach to Development”. JIE President, Christopher Hamilton noted that the JIE is committed to “collaboration for development as engineers and technical professionals must participate to achieve sustained growth and development for Jamaica and the region.”


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