New board to be named shortly for HEART/NSTA Trust

New board to be named shortly for HEART/NSTA Trust

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, January 14, 2021

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness has promised that a new board of directors will be named shortly, to oversee the development of the newly formed HEART/National Service Training Agency (NSTA) Trust.

Responding to questions raised by the Opposition's spokesman on finance Julian Robinson in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Holness said that the challenge with such large, multi-purpose institutions is that they can become “unwieldy”.

“They can grow very large, they can become institutionalised and it becomes very difficult for them to change direction because they are such huge organisations, and they can become very rigid because of the demands that we place on them,” said Holness.

The prime minister added that what the Government decided to do was to go ahead with the merger because on paper there were clear benefits in the reduction of expenditure and the increase in service to the public.

But Holness accepted that there can be a gap between what is projected on paper and what executives actually do.

“For there not to be a gap, there has to be consistent and vigilant oversight from the minister, the board, the Parliament, and it has to come from the various stakeholders,” argued Holness.

He said that in addition to putting in place a new board, the Government will today partner with mobile security company, Amber Connect Jamaica, to launch a coding academy, “as coding has become the way of the future for mass employment for young people”. Coding is what is used to create computer software, apps and websites.

“We recognise that HEART/NSTA has to be far more responsive to industry, and a part of that response is what we are going to be doing in coding to ensure Jamaica can participate, meaningfully, in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“There are other areas in which we will be participating and you will soon hear more about them,” added Holness in response to a question from Opposition spokesman Anthony about the relevance of the HEART/NSTA training to the needs of local industry.

The prime minister rejected the suggestion that the merger was costly and ineffective.

He noted that, despite the problems associated with the current pandemic, the merger of four government institutions — HEART Trust/NTA, the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning, the Apprenticeship Board, and the National Youth Service — into the HEART/NSTA Trust has reduced their combined operational costs.

Holness pointed out that the merged entity has cost the Government $1 billion less than when they were separated.

He also noted that instead of the total staff complement of 2,222 people, the merged institution now has a total staff complement of 1,578 employees and has launched its own mobile training facility.

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