The former Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre has been transformed into a multifaceted skills training centre. The new facility was launched at an opening ceremony in Alexandria, St Ann yesterday (Thursday, December 10, 2015). It is a rise from the ashes for Armadale, as the facility was the scene of a fatal fire in 2009 which resulted in the deaths of seven girls and the injury of several others.
The HEART Trust/ NTA joined forces with the Ministry of National Security, the Jamaica Bauxite Institute and other partners to transform the property into a Skills Training Centre which is equipped to accommodate 125 trainees recruited from Alexandria and surrounding communities of South West St. Ann.
Addressing the official launch, Dr Wayne Wesley, Executive Director of the HEART Trust/NTA, stated that the Agency was committed to developing community training interventions which helped to integrate unattached youths and adults into society.
“As the National Training Agency we have a responsibility not only to develop programmes but to ensure all our citizens have access to these programmes. We have been creating several initiatives which increase access to technical vocational education and training and bringing these opportunities to those who need it most,” he said.
The newly renovated Armadale Skills Training Centre will offer certification in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, General Construction, Carpentry and Furniture Making along with a host of other programme choices which are in demand based on labour market research conducted by the HEART Trust/ NTA.
Upon completion of a programme, successful trainees will earn the internationally recognised stamp of approval, the National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J). All the programmes will be offered up to level two of HEART’s certification system. Guest Speaker, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller declared that the new Armadale Skills Training Centre should be considered a symbol of hope for Jamaicans.
“Armadale is an inspiration. It is a powerful example of our resilience as a people. This facility is a bold statement of the efforts of the private and public sector working together to empower communities.”
Education Minister, Reverend Ronald Thwaites, expressed his pleasure at the collaborative efforts of the HEART Trust and its partners to resurrect Armadale as a training institution where community members could further themselves without having to travel long distances to other areas. A primary goal and focus of the project is to enhance the income generation potential of the residents of Alexandria and its surrounding communities through the empowerment of individuals with industry relevant skills training and certification.
An elated Keith Walford, Member of Parliament for South West St. Ann, said the initiative was a necessary one which he was confident would not only serve his constituency but contribute to the upliftment and productivity of Jamaica. In his remarks, the Honourable Peter Bunting, Minister of National Security stated that when he was approached by MP Walford with his proposal to transform Armadale he simply could not turn it down.
“I believe if more youths are engaged in meaningful activities, where they are able to earn then we will have less crime. I am pleased to announce that Armadale is now the third facility we have converted from being a correctional service institute to one that offers training,” he said. The other two facilities were the Montpelier Juvenile Correctional Facility, in St. James and the Stony HiIl Juvenile Remand Centre in St. Andrew.
Twenty five (25) trainees who were trained and assessed by HEART Trust NTA instructors while working on the renovations of the property were also presented with Certificates at the ceremony.