Career & Education

Lifelong learning key to success — Williams

Sunday, December 03, 2017

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Those who attended the recent Vocational Training and Development Institute (VTDI) graduation at Mona Visitors' Lodge and Conference Centre would have come away with one of three take-aways: the continued relevance of vocational ability, the importance of life-long learning, or the value of entrepreneurship.

Those were the pervading messages from guest presenters, including keynote speaker Fayval Williams, who is Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

She made the point that although the graduates have so far had success, there are still “many more miles to travel”.

“I encourage you to look around for additional study and training opportunities to add to your status. The world of work is changing rapidly, and so are the demands you must prepare yourself for,” she stated.

“Graduation does not end here. In fact, it only marks the beginning,” she added.

Williams, who was standing in for Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green, noted that while the technical/vocational training provided by the VTDI — regarded as the tertiary department of the HEART Trust/NTA — prepares them as job seekers, they must also seek to become job creators.

“Further study and development will determine the kind of success you will have,” she pointed out, noting that the education ministry has been promoting the concept of lifelong learning.

“School is an important learning platform for children and adolescents, and the workplace is an essential arena for your development for many years more, roughly two-thirds of your life or more,” she argued.

She said that the Government has remained committed to enhancing the quality and relevance of technical/vocational training to meet Jamaica's industrial needs, and to increase the country's economic competitiveness.

Minister Williams added that economic growth demands skills, and the Government's mandate is to ensure that those skills are delivered at a fast enough pace, hence the focus on Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) which, in the past, was limited to only technical high schools and new secondary high schools.

Director/Principal of VTDI, Delize Williams pointed out that while women were outperforming men in tertiary education all around, she was proud that her graduates were almost even in terms of gender.

“While many may lament that a small number of males are pursuing studies at the tertiary level, of the total cadre of VTDI students to be certified with postgraduate diplomas, degrees and diplomas (here) today, 47 per cent are males and 53 per cent are females,” she noted.

She said that not only does the VTDI offer programmes at various levels, and responds to the labour market demands, in a bid to impact Jamaica's growth agenda, the institute also offers short/customised training interventions in response to the needs of the public and private sector.

“Consequently, during the last financial year, over 100 teachers from 98 schools within the Ministry of Education were trained, and customised interventions were developed and implemented for entities including the Jamaica Defence Force, the Department of Correctional Services and the Board of Supervision from the Ministry of Local Government,“ said Williams.

She reported that the VTDI has now purchased and installed its long overdue student information system, a move expected to improve the quality of service to its students. The system, known as the iSIMS, allows students to register online, view their grades online and view their status reports online, among other things.

She also noted that with recent labour market studies endorsing the need for higher level training in animation, the VTDI has responded by developing and commencing training in its first associate degree in animation.

She added that one of the team members would have attended the Animation and Digital Media Exposition which was held in Trinidad and Tobago last week.

Other programmes which are projected to be implemented by January next year include an associate occupational degree in renewable energy and another in logistics and supply chain management.

Also speaking at the function was chairman of the board of the VTDI, Wesley Nelson, who is also senior vice-president of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union.

Nelson said that while in the past vocational and technical training was seen as an inferior accomplishment to the arts and science, the country has come a long way and institutions like the VTDI, the University of Technology (UTech) and the HEART Trust have shown that there is equal demand for students of vocational training.

“It is becoming more and more acknowledged as an important tool for national development and growth, as the society goes digital and becomeS more consumed with technology,” Nelson said.

“So, I want to encourage you, our departing students, as well as those who will remain here over the next year, to continue to spread the message of the importance of vocational training, as ideal for good jobs and a good life in the future,” he said.

He urged the graduands to continue to promote the changes in the system and stand up for what they believe in.

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