NCTVET still stuck between education ministry, HEART/NSTA TrustThursday, July 29, 2021
THERE are concerns that the main certifying body under the HEART/NSTA Trust — the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) — has been stuck in limbo, since 2018, between the education ministry and the trust.
The issue was raised at a meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) yesterday during its review of the auditor general's September 2020 report on the operations of the national training agency.
Permanent secretary in the education ministry Dr Grace McLean insisted that there was no delay, just a long process. “There are a series of processes that you have to go through when you are moving one entity from one body to another. We are almost at the end; we are just going through the transition for it to be fully assigned to us,” she stated.
Wayne Robertson, chief technical director in the Office of the Prime Minister, which has oversight for the HEART Trust, said this was a grey area. “But we are guided by the assignment of subjects published in September 2018, which show that the NCTVET falls under the ambit of the Ministry of Education, and, as far as I am aware, HEART pays salaries in terms of overseeing their operations.”
St Catherine South MP Fitz Jackson described the situation as disheartening. “This is why you end up with governance breaches because you don't have the thing properly laid in any entity to exercise statutory oversight responsibility, and then we see the kinds of issues coming out of HEART with contracts and the whole issue of conflict of interest,” said Jackson.Auditor General Pamela Monroe-Ellis concluded in her report that HEART had only achieved a certification rate of 45 per cent relative to enrolment in skills training programmes for the period 2014-15 to 2018-19, suggesting that the agency did not obtain optimal value from training expenditure of $30.5 billion.Parliament approved a name change Bill in 2019, merging the functions of the HEART Trust/NTA with the National Youth Service (NYS), the Apprenticeship Board, and the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning.
Committee Chairman Mikael Phillips and other committee members argued that the transfer should have been a matter of urgency, noting also that there could be issues surrounding reclassification of NCTVET employees and benefits due to them.The committee was assured that while the employees are not a part of the current reclassification structure for HEART, their retroactive benefits would be paid.
Dr McLean said some of the 35 employees would still be engaged through HEART, while others who are critical to the accreditation component of the NCTVET's work would be subsumed in the education ministry.MP for Trelawny Northern Tova Hamilton argued that the NCTVET should not have resided with the HEART/NSTA Trust in the first instance: “It really shouldn't have, because it requires some level of independence. So I imagine that the transfer should have been a matter of urgency.”
The NCTVET was formed in 1994 and mandated to accredit training programmes, develop certification standards and assessments, and award certificates and diplomas to individuals for competence in vocational areas.
– Alphea Saunders