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Caribbean Journal of Education

Preparing the Workforce for the 21st Century: The Jamaican Experience

Publication Date: 
April 2009

The paper begins with an analysis of the impact of vocational education in Jamaica over the past 30 years. A critical look was taken of the two periods of major interventions in Jamaica: the introduction of the grades 10 and 11 programme in 1974 and the introduction of the HEART Trust in 1982. The article advances the view that vocational education in Jamaica has failed to have the required impact in preparing a workforce to respond adequately to issues of employment, productivity and efficiency. A comprehensive analysis was done of the workforce, based on data provided by STATIN, to determine the nature of the workforce and where training delivery should be focused. The analysis shows that (a) over 75 per cent of the workforce reported that they have had no training for the jobs they now occupy, and (b) the professional group of employees has the highest percentage of persons reporting that they have been trained in the last year for the jobs they now occupy. The paper proposes that training has to be refocused and the HEART Trust/NTA must start to emphasize work-based training to address the performance problems of the workplace.

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