Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall, has underscored the need for Jamaicans to have greater access to vocational training, in order to be equipped with the requisite skills to meet rigorous employment demands and standards globally.
Sir Kenneth, who was speaking at the official opening of the third annual HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA) World Skills/Jamaica National Skills Competition at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston on Wednesday (April 23), noted that Jamaican workers are renowned globally for their high performance and productivity levels and are “generally sought after in this (Caribbean) region and many other parts of the world.”
This, he attributed in great measure, to the high standard of training provided by vocational institutions such as the HEART Trust, but stressed the need to boost the end-product achievements of the programmes being offered.
“The problem is that the high standards achieved at the end of programmes are limited to relatively few persons. HEART Trust/NTA and World Skills Jamaica have the challenge then, of providing wider access, thus equipping a larger proportion of our population to meet the rigorous international standards demanded by global production systems and consumption patterns,” Sir Kenneth said.
The Governor-General suggested the need to “move beyond the great divide in our education system”, citing that for too long, what was referred to as “academic work” has been allowed to impede the recognition and importance of skills as a legitimate part of Jamaica’s education system. These perceptions, he pointed out, have prevented the full realization of the capacities needed to acquire and apply skills.
“What World Skills Jamaica can achieve in this regard is the development of awareness among our educators, policymakers, employers and employees, and students of the wide range of general skills, which are often excluded from our conception of skills,” he stated.
Alluding to a recently published newspaper article, entitled – ‘What do employers Really Want: Top skills and values employers seek from job seekers”, Sir Kenneth noted that its contents spoke to a specific set of skills that employers seek of job seekers. These, he pointed out, include communication, analytical research, leadership management, and problem solving skills, among others.
“It is also suggested that employers pay greater attention to those personal values, which they find in their potential employees – honesty, integrity and morality, tenacity, dependability, reliability, and loyalty, to mention a few. The challenges faced, then, by HEART Trust/NTA and World Skills Jamaica is how to ensure that acquisition of (vocational) skills.. is complemented by the range of skills and values just mentioned,” the Governor-General stated.
Noting that the National Skills Competition focuses on some 11 occupational areas, including agriculture, and the performing arts, Sir Kenneth said the challenge for Jamaica is how to use the competition and its offerings as a catalyst to formulate a concept of skills incorporating general skills such as academic, interpersonal, and motor skills, among others.
“What we must also insist..(is) that the acquisition of skills in these areas must be complemented by those broad areas of competencies and values that will result in a skilled graduate capable of being an informed citizen, an efficient and effective worker, and community builder. To a large extent, Vision 2030, which seeks to place Jamaica in the category of developed countries by 2030, depends on the success of this (skills competition) programme,” Sir Kenneth said.
The Governor-General is the patron of the competition, which is a medium for promoting and enhancing vocational skills as a vehicle for enhancing the development of the Jamaican economy.