In light of the changing dynamics of the workforce both in Guyana and the Caribbean Region, there is an increasing need for closer attention to be directed to the level of skills of graduates opting to secure jobs. This notion was yesterday amplified by Assistant Chief Education Officer-Technical (ACEO – Tech), Patrick Chinedu Onwuzirike. He was at the time setting the stage for the start of a workshop for technical officers at the New Amsterdam, Berbice, Church View Hotel.
According to Onwuzirike it was in fact complaints from industries and employers that led to the recent crafting of a new regional strategic policy, an undertaking that saw immense input from the Caricom Secretariat.
And the intent of the policy, according to the ACEO, is designed to ensure that the Region has informed focus on how to train persons in preparation for the workforce. As such, he noted that “one of the major areas of the policy is for us to develop a workforce that is knowledge based.”
In addition to the existing policy designed to govern skills training in Caricom member states, Onwuzirike said that Guyana has in place its own TVET policy which was revised to suit the changing needs. The education sector has also crafted a new strategic plan, he said, to guide its TVET work until the end of 2020.
In the meantime though, the sector has plans to continue training its TVET principals, instructors and technicians in order to prepare them to embrace the new trend in training. “We believe that it is important that we continue to ensure that you the leaders, the senior people (in TVET) who must be prepared to take TVET to that higher level are prepared. Leaders must have the requisite skills to cope with that changing environment,” Onwuzirike told the workshop of TVET officers yesterday.
The workshop also addressed concerns relating to the fact that some of the TVET facilitators in the system are aging. In fact, according to Onwuzirike, based on a survey, close to 50 per cent of Principals, Vice Principals and other senior officers will be reaching the age of retirement within another year or two as stipulated by law. This development is likely to create a daunting void in the system; thus the need for other persons to be adequately trained to fill the gap.
Onwuzirike disclosed yesterday too that a TVET Enhancement Project 2012-2014 sought to create a professional staff development plan to detail how TVET practitioners should operate in the various technical institutions. This plan, according to the ACEO, was premised on a consultancy that was geared towards finding the gaps that exist in terms of skills, knowledge and leadership of senior officers currently in the system. Out of that consultancy, modules to be addressed were highlighted and were among the issues set for discussion at the workshop which will continue until Friday.
The workshop will also give attention to quality assurance with a view of ensuring that students are prepared from the secondary level to continue TVET studies at the tertiary level. “We want to ensure that those things are concretised,” said Onwuzirike even as he pointed out that “what we are doing now must be based on quality, hence the need for us to show that all of us are in keeping with that quality assurance to do what we have to do.”
Although it is expected that the ongoing workshop, which targets TVET officials from across the country, will concisely address the concerns relating to TVET in order to improve its delivery, Onwuzirike said that there are plans in place for expanded interactions before year end.
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