Career & Education

Private sector should invest in professional development of staff — Education Minister

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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Minister of Education, Youth and Information Senator Ruel Reid has called on the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) to collaborate with stakeholders in the education and training sectors to develop professional development programmes for workers across the island.

Senator Reid was speaking on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston at the inaugural TVET Leaders' Summit and Youth Forum, one of the activities of National Careers' Week and Skills Competition.

Minister Reid stated that the collaboration for professional development of employees and potential employees was critical to positioning Jamaica's human capital for growth. He suggested that the programme lasts for three weeks each year and should be compulsory for all private and public sector professionals. In the meantime, he encouraged employers to upskill workers through the training and certification programmes offered by the HEART Trust/NTA.

The Minister further stated that plans for a National Apprenticeship System are being developed whereby employers would receive a tax write-off for allowing graduates of training institutions to be a part of the programme in their respective organisations.

“It is in this regard that we encourage and pursue more public/private partnerships as we work collaboratively to meet the needs of industry and our national economic goals,” said the minister.

Chairman of the HEART Trust/NTA Edward Gabbidon noted that the training agency was ensuring that its programmes were in alignment with global skills demand.

“People and businesses are looking for academic certification and training. We (HEART Trust/NTA) have a responsibility to train our people and certify them to compete in this market,” said Gabbidon.

The Leaders' Summit featured panel discussions with representatives from key industries, international donor agencies, policy makers and academia. The recurring cry of a lack of soft skills in graduates was resounding among panelists. Fernando Pavon, a specialist in the Labour Markets and Social Division of the Inter-American Development Bank noted that it is imperative that employees posses the characteristics of critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills so as to effectively interact with others in their work space.

Pavon noted that another important aspect in planning for future development was the use of technology as, in approximately seven years, some 90 per cent of jobs will require digital skills. “By empowering youth with all these skill sets we are encouraging a growth mindset, allowing skills to stay continuously relevant and empowering youth to be able to adapt to change,” said Pavon.

He also warned policy makers that 65 per cent of children starting school today will have a job that does not currently exist and so agreed that the TVET Summit and Youth Forum was an important platform for discussing strategies in response to emerging job opportunities and new careers.


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