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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.
THE National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) has lauded the contributions of its stakeholder partners which have enabled the agency to fulfil its mandate as the quality assurance arm of the HEART Trust/National Training Agency (HEART/NTA).
The council recently honoured about 100 key stakeholders which have partnered with the institution over the years.
This recognition was accorded at a special awards ceremony, held at the Mona Visitor’ Lodge at University of the West Indies (UWI) in St Andrew, under the theme ‘Honouring the Past, Launching the Future’, which commemorated the agency’s 21st anniversary.
The honourees, inclusive of tertiary, secondary, and vocational institutions, were presented with commemorative plaques and citations, among other awards.
Notable among these was the International University of the Caribbean (IUC), which achieved a student certification rate of over 95 per cent during 2015 to emerge the top institution for the year. Central High School in Clarendon copped second place, having attained a 91 per cent certification rate, while St Mary Technical High School in St Mary, and Frome Technical High School in Westmoreland tied for third with 90 per cent.
The four were also among 19 institutions awarded for notable performances in the June 2015 examinations, with students averaging between 70 and 100 per cent.
Meanwhile, Bog Walk High School in St Catherine and St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) in Kingston emerged as the institutions offering the most TVET programmes in the 2015 NCTVET examinations. Bog Walk High, with 11 programmes, edged STATHS for the top position.
The programmes offered at Bog Walk include data operations, crop production; carpentry; commercial food preparation, housekeeping, cosmetology, welding, electrical installation, general office administration, motor vehicle repairs, and fashion designing.
Those offered at STATHS are plumbing, crop production, data operations, electrical installation, welding, metal work engineering;, furniture making, motor vehicle repairs, cosmetology, and barbering.
Awards were also presented to 47 institutions, which were recognised for being longstanding NCTVET clients; 26 educators who served as evaluators/auditors, item writers/assessors/markers, and lead group members in the administration of the various programmes.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, NCTVET’s senior director, Jennifer Walker, said the institution’s accomplishments would not have been possible without “the guidance and inputs of many experts from the various sectors”.
Walker said their efforts contributed significantly to increasing the number of institutions accessing the National and Caribbean Vocational Qualifications.
Council member of NCTVET, Maxine Henry Wilson — who represented Chairman Norman Davis — commended the agency on the “sterling reputation they have attained”, pointing out that “they are the envy of many… locally, regionally and globally”.
Henry Wilson said NCTVET has demonstrated “absolute maturity” by virtue of their achievements and the manner in which these have been recorded.
“To those who have been involved in the delivery of services to the clients, we applaud and thank you for attaining and maintaining the highest standards consistent with the tradition and requirements of NCTVET,” she added.
For his part, HEART Trust Executive Director Dr Wayne Wesley emphasised that NCTVET’s activities are “critical” to his agency’s mission and strategic thrust, particularly in ensuring that “the… (workforce) certification we give, as an organisation, is recognised both locally and internationally”.
“The 21st century requires a workforce that will add competitiveness to the Jamaican economy, and increase our productivity,” he noted.
Guest speaker, principal of Moneague Teachers’ College in St Ann, Howard Isaacs, encouraged the management, staff and stakeholder partners to celebrate and consolidate the agency’s achievements, pointing out that “you have impacted the society”.
“You have done a great job and we are proud of you. Clearly, you have the necessary skills, you have the leaders, and you have the resources [to empower you to achieve even more]. If you continue to believe in the vision that was established… you will [attain greater achievements],” he added.
The NCTVET, which was formed in 1994, has overall responsibility for developing competency standards, and assessment and qualification guidelines; certifying assessors; accrediting organisations; and issuing the National Vocational Qualifications of Jamaica (NVQJ) certification to those participating in programmes offered in partnership with HEART, who demonstrate the requisite competencies in various occupational areas.
Its achievements include: approving more than 600 standards in over 200 skills across 48 sectors; awarding over 260,000 certificates of competence; accrediting programmes in 46 training institutions; and granting centre of approval status for more than 142 institutions.
In 1995, one year after its operations commenced, NCTVET awarded its first NVQJ certification, and by 1999 the agency’s Early Childhood Care and Development Standards were accorded global recognition by the United Nations Children’s Fund.
By 2002, NCTVET expanded the issuance of vocational qualification certification across the region, with residents of Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines being the first recipients of the Caribbean Vocational Qualification.
One year later, standards which the agency developed were endorsed and adopted by territories across the Caribbean.
In recognition of its work, NCTVET was bestowed with the Jamaica Employers’ Federation Public Sector Leadership Award in 2001; and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica National Quality Award for Excellence in service in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
The National Training Agency will be launching an initiative to assist Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The announcement was made by Dr Wayne Wesley, Executive Director of the Agency, during a recent press conference at HEART Trust’s corporate offices in Kingston.
“We will be providing support to business owners under a new programme which is set to get underway in February of this year. Almost 100 entrepreneurs will be able to access grants of up to $3 million dollars depending on the support category.”
The HEART programme will have three distinct components which will provide assistance for Export-Based Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), General MSMEs and Trainee Start-ups.
Small and Medium Enterprises will receive up to $3 million to boost exports through the Export Max initiative being spearheaded by Jamaica Promotions (JAMPRO). Other selected MSMEs will receive a grant of up to $3 million and participate in a 24-month business development programme.
In addition HEART trainees who have conceptualised a business idea and decide to operate their own companies will receive grants of up to $100,000 to purchase tools and equipment. They will also receive business development training for 18 months.