– CARICOM programme manager
TECHNICAL and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) can be used as a mechanism to reduce poverty, CARICOM Secretariat, Human Resource Development Programme Manager, Dr. Laurette Bristol said.
She offered the remarks on Tuesday, at the conclusion of the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (CTVET) master trainers’ workshop for TVET practitioners in Guyana, held at Regency Suites Hotel, Hadfield Street, Georgetown.
Dr. Bristol said that the 15 participants, who were certified as master trainers after an intense one-week programme, will improve the quality of education delivery across six disciplines.
Adding that it was the first of many steps in enhancing quality development in the region, she said standards will be held high in order to continue to improve the impact of facilitators.
She also said there will be an increasing need for monitoring and evaluation at the implementation of the CARICOM Human Resource Development Strategy.
“Right now we are working closely with member states as we look to develop the mechanisms needed.”
Dr. Bristol said data driven activities show that there are lots more to do for the skills for life learning sector.
“We are encouraging member states and I think the Government of Guyana needs to be applauded for recognising TVET as an economic driver. We are streamlining national development plans so that we focus on more competency-based education approaches in the communication of information,” Dr. Bristol said.
The programme manager said skills and competencies are critical for states to be able to respond to 21st century challenges.
She explained that CARICOM is mapping the quality qualifications framework onto the regional network to get a seamless education system.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bristol noted that youth unemployment rates in the Caribbean are among the highest in the world. She noted that out of every four youths, one in unemployed in the Caribbean compared to two in every 25 adults while unemployment among young women is more than 30 per cent compared to 20 per cent for young men.
The data shared was from the study “Youths are our future, the imperative for Youth Employment for Sustainable Development” 2015 commissioned by the Caribbean Development Bank
Dr. Bristol said more than a quarter of the region’s unemployed is between 25-34 years of age including graduates of secondary and tertiary education.
Noting that research done by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) indicates that 79 per cent of member country’s GDP is produced by the service economy, Dr. Bristol said training of people to work in crucial sectors is critical.
“Policies are then needed to assist with youth employment so that the changes to the high youth unemployment rates are dealt with… So what CTVET is doing is addressing a very real problem facing us in the Caribbean,” Dr. Bristol said.
She explained that when there are high rates of youth unemployment, it causes society to operate in a particular way that is not desirable, resulting in social security issues such as crime and violence.
However, she said that CARICOM Human Resource Developmental Strategy which was approved by heads in 2017 recognised that education, training and productive employment are vital for economic and social development of the region.
This strategy, Dr. Bristol said, aims at unleashing the potential of all Caribbean citizens and this is done by creating a seamless pathway of education that allows for adaptability and flexibility in learning.
Competency-based education and approaches, she said, can lead to entrepreneurialism where persons can create their own employment.
“Persons can become employers, rather than sit and wait on being employees is a thing that will drive the development, not just of the Caribbean in terms of sustainability and resiliency, but, it is going to drive the development of Guyana,” Dr. Bristol said.
TVET Council Chairman, Clinton Williams thanked the Caribbean Development Bank and the Education Ministry for the support in advancing the work programme.
Williams said the CTVET has a responsibility to ensure an effective and efficient delivery of quality technical and vocational training.
“This programme was intended to build and enhance capacity in keeping with international best practices in competency-based education training. However, given the stigma which has, and continues to impact the technical and vocational programmes, this workshop will not only have a positive impact for the increased employment generation but also entrepreneurship and empowerment,” Williams said.
This, he said should be viewed as a vital socioeconomic intervention as it related to poverty alleviation and crime prevention.
The chairman challenged the master trainers to be the best teachers, role models, agents of change, nation builders and enablers of research and readers.