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January 4, 2014
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Employers want greater focus on technical training

Employers have indicated a need for changes in Jamaica's education curriculum, with greater focus on technical training, to better prepare persons for the job market.

This disclosure was made by director of economic and social research in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Shaine Palmer, during a recent labour-market forum hosted at the Planning Institute of Jamaica's (PIOJ) New Kingston offices, where the 2012 labour- market study, 'A Guide to Employment Opportunities in Jamaica', was unveiled.

Palmer said approximately 30 per cent, about 182, of the 606 employers/human-resource managers participating in the survey indicated a need to boost the technical/vocational skills-training component of the curricula.

"Because they (employers) are saying that (some) persons coming into the world of work just have a theoretical knowledge (of their area of interest), they don't have the practical, they (are not able to adequately) translate the knowledge they have attained into doing the actual work," the director stated.

Palmer said another 29 per cent of employers interviewed indicated a need for the introduction of a work experience/internship component into the curriculum.

This, he pointed out, as employers have said persons are "coming into the world of work without the right attitude".

"This is something that we are also exploring more in our qualitative study that should be ready around June 2014," he indicated.

The director advised that 26 per cent of interviewees highlighted the need for the curriculum to be restructured to facilitate inculcation of a positive work culture. while the remaining 15 per cent underscored the need for introduction of soft skills, such as customer service.

Palmer said field work for the survey commenced in December 2011 and continued and concluded in 2012. The exercise targeted 1,200 employers-human resource managers island-wide. These included 300 from Kingston and St Andrew 100 from St James; 100 from St Catherine; and 70 from other parishes.

From this, he said, 606 persons, representing 51 per cent of the sample frame secured from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) database, responded and participated in the exercise.

The forum, held under the theme, 'Reshaping the Jamaican Labour Market to Foster Economic Growth and Development,' was jointly held by the PIOJ and the Labour Market Information Technical Advisory Committee, in collaboration with the Labour and Social Security Ministry, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

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