EDUCATION Minister Ronald Thwaites says secondary level students need to include subjects of a technical and vocational nature in their selections, in order to be employable when they choose to enter the job market.
According to Thwaites, the 21st century job market has been restructured in such a way that job seekers are not choosing individuals based on high performance in pure sciences and language-based subjects and courses, but those with technical and vocational backgrounds with computer science knowledge and technical competencies.
This, he said, is because the world is being shaped into a technology-driven environment which demands workers who are technically competent.
"Years ago, it was a fact that it was only if you could master languages or do the pure sciences that you were really bright. This is not so now," Thwaites said.
"I strongly recommend to our students that when they are choosing their subjects, they choose not only a subject or two from the traditional line-up of academic subjects, but they also choose something which will lift them with that combination into the tertiary sector or make them attractive in the job market in a more direct way than others," he said.
He was speaking at the launch of Ascot High School's sixth-form programme on June 12.
He said institutions like Ascot — which will, in addition to Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination subjects, offer professional development courses, leadership training, research and information literacy and professional ethics — are paving the way for the students to become more competitive.
"The modern - day workforce, the 21st century job market, requires not only academic advancement, but technical and vocational competencies. It's not one or the other. There are many of our schools which do not offer students a range. We have to shift our educational system into a direction that is compatible with the needs of the modern workforce," he said.
"Many of us at all levels of the education system have the notion that the world must change or reverse in order to suit us. That is not going to happen. We are going to have to prepare ourselves for the new reality," he added.
He said Jamaican parents need to recognise that technical and vocational subjects are going to help drive the economies of our future generations, and not just the science-based and language-based proficiencies.