Trench Town Polytechnic making strides
The Trench Town Polytechnic College in Kingston, the island's first such institution, was conceptualised in 2015, when the Ministry of Education took the decision to streamline Charlie Smith High and Trench Town High schools.
In August 2017, the institution was designated a member of the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica, making it a Multi-Disciplinary Community College, which focuses heavily on technical and vocational education and training.
Principal of the College, Dr Dosseth Edwards-Watson, said that the institution offers diverse courses in continuing, technical and vocational education.
According to Dr Edwards-Watson, the college takes its cue from the HEART Trust/NTA market surveys, pointing out that the programmes that are offered are not cast in stone and are therefore a response to industries' demands.
"If a particular industry tells us that they need some bartenders, we are agile enough to make that transition to supply what they want. We do not train for unemployment, we train for workforce," she says.
At present, there are fewer than 400 students enrolled at the college and the number is set to increase today, because the institution was recently designated a Community Training Intervention (CTI) Centre for HEART Trust/NTA and a suite of programmes is set to begin. The institution has 50 members of staff, which include lecturers, administrative and ancillary workers.
Dr Edwards-Watson says that although the majority of the students are from Trench Town and nearby communities, persons from as far as St Thomas, Clarendon, St Catherine and rural St Andrew are also enrolled at the institution.
There are offerings, including programmes through the Council of Community Colleges, such as associate degrees in culinary arts, computer servicing and electronics; the Centre of Occupational Studies, which offers occupational associate degrees in subjects including business process outsourcing, allied health (geriatrics), and restaurant operations.
The principal said they have also forged partnerships with the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, where students have an opportunity to pursue a certificate in theatre arts and production; and the Caribbean Maritime University, where students are exposed to courses in logistics and supply chain operations, and warehousing logistics and distribution.
They also offer pre-college programmes in commercial food preparation, auto body repairs and customer engagement through the Career Advancement Programme. Other training partners which lend their support to the institution are Garmex HEART Academy that offers training in patient care and musical performance, and the LEAP Centre which trains students in Art and Craft. Fashion designing and shoemaking will begin soon through the Queen's Young Leaders Grant, sponsored by Digicel Foundation.
The College is funded solely by the education ministry, but receives well-needed support from several of its training partners and organisations.
"Going forward, we will be creating linkages with overseas polytechnics. As the first one of its kind in Jamaica, the foundation is laid, so we want to reach out to others in terms of best practices, the sharing of resources and training of staff," Dr Edwards-Watson said.
If a particular industry tells us that they need some bartenders, we are agile enough to make that transition to supply what they want.