Career & Education

Sixth-form engineering pilot to begin September

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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City & Guilds in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will offer an engineering qualification to sixth-form students at selected schools, in a pilot project starting in the upcoming academic year.

The pilot schools in this first year include York Castle High School, St George's College, Jamaica College, Excelsior High School, Wolmer's Boys' School, and Mona High School.

In what is being viewed as a far-reaching and even game-changing initiative, the selected students will be encouraged to pursue the City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Engineering (#2580) alongside CAPE maths, physics and science. In an arrangement with the ministry, examination fees will be paid for students writing the City & Guilds engineering examinations alongside CAPE's associate degree in industrial technology. Students will challenge exams over the two-year duration of their sixth-form experience.

Upon successful completion of the course, the students will have globally recognised and accepted qualifications that will allow them to pursue further studies and/or employment. The City & Guilds Level 3 programme of study will give successful candidates the designation of engineering technician (with post-nominal letters, TechEng) via the United Kingdom's Engineering Council. The certification will give Jamaican students the opportunity of global employment under the Dublin Accord.

Chief education officer Dr Grace McLean spoke of the STEM approach and the ideal TVET model the partnership with City & Guilds represents.

“The qualification is aimed at helping to meet the critical need for engineering skills and capacity facing the island,” she said.

Professor Gossett Oliver, former vice-principal of the University of Technology and a Fellow of the City & Guilds of London, operates Institute of International Recognized Qualifications (IIRQ), which will have management oversight of the engineering programme in the role of internal verifier. IIRQ will provide tutorial and quality assurance support to ensure good delivery and valid assessments. Prof Oliver communicated that, “The advanced placement facility available to these City and Guilds students will be a significant boon to their pursuit of careers in engineering.”

City & Guilds Country Representative Marva Duncanson, noted that, “As the pace of global change, driven by technological advances, continues to accelerate, the need for well-trained, innovative engineers in Jamaica is becoming more critical.” In a report presented at the launch of the programme, it was indicated that demand for STEM employment is growing at a significantly faster rate than non-STEM employment. Duncanson added that “training and certification in engineering has to take place now if Jamaica is to meet the skill needs for national development and economic growth”.

“We have to find a way to get our young people interested in areas that will serve country and maximise potential,” Dr McLean stressed, adding that the development of the engineering cadre has significant implications for a broad range of economic sectors, from mining and agriculture to tourism, transportation, and manufacturing.

Raymon Treasure, principal of York Castle High School, testified to the practicality of joint certification, based on his own experience as director of Brown's Town Community College's Technical Campus in Discovery Bay. During his tenure as technical director, two of his students achieved City & Guilds Medals of Excellence (the highest score worldwide) in engineering and construction.

The City & Guilds initiative comes against the backdrop of a wider, shared response to the engineering need amongst other institutions, including the University of Technology, Caribbean Maritime Institute, and the Mona School of Engineering, UWI.

In a recently published essay, economist and lecturer Mark Ricketts cited current reports — including one from Britain's Royal Academy of Engineering — that confirm a strong correlation between the strength of a country's engineering industry and its gross domestic product per capita. A recently developed engineering index, created by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, confirms this, with the world's leading economies — Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, and Switzerland — all ranking among the top.

Ricketts's assertions are confirmed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness who, in a recent address, said that productivity and discipline were key factors in the successful transition of the economy and of the society, and will be critical factors in the ongoing process of attracting investments.

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