The significance of TVET in making a difference in the quality of a country’s workforce is increasingly being realized in countries globally. In the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica, for example, the hotel industry which has been characterized as world class, is benefitting from a workforce that is trained largely by HEART Trust/NTA. Many developed countries including Germany, Australia, and Japan have used TVET to prepare the workforce which in many respects has given them a competitive advantage in the production of goods and services. Emerging economies such as India, Singapore, China, and Brazil have also taken full advantage of TVET in the preparation of their workers.
Caribbean countries are at this time poised to benefit significantly from TVET due to the greater awareness by governments of its role in transforming the workforce, and indeed their economies. Many of them have either established or are in the process of establishing National Training Agencies (NTAs), and some have developed TVET policies that will guide the implementation of TVET in their respective countries. Additionally, a regional TVET strategy has been revamped and ratified by CARICOM. Some of these developments received a boost from the first International TVET Conference in the Caribbean, which was held in March, 2012. The conference then spoke to the theme: TVET and Human Capacity Development (HCD) in the Caribbean. Indeed, the declaration made at that Conference in the Caribbean provided significant inputs to the outcome of the 3rd International Congress on TVET, which took place in Shanghai, China in 2012.
With the recognition that TVET is a vital part of the education and training process, more countries in the region are taking steps to integrate it with general education. Further, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is being promoted as a driving force in propelling TVET towards a culture of innovation and improved economic performance in our respective countries. The integration of TVET with STEM and general education as a whole will provide the relevant platform in response to the demands of the modern workforce, which has to respond to emerging technologies and economic opportunities such as “Logistics Hub” in the case of Jamaica, “Renewable Energy” in the case of Barbados, and developments in the oil, gas and tourism industries as well as entrepreneurship in other countries within the region.
The UWI Mona School of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Education Jamaica, HEART Trust/NTA, University of Technology (UTECH) Jamaica, Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies (CANTA) and UNESCO Kingston cluster office for the Caribbean, will host the second international conference on TVET in the Caribbean. The theme of this conference is: STEM Education in TVET: Imperative to National and Regional Development. The general objective of the Conference is to establish a platform for re-engineering the traditional education process, and strengthen academic discourse as it relates to the implications of STEM in TVET within the region. The specific objectives include:
- Provision of an opportunity for regional TVET policy-makers to consult widely, by encouraging a participatory approach in research presentations.
- Creating an avenue to lead in clarification of the relationship between TVET, STEM and the economy.
- Exploration of the implications for Logistics Hubs, Renewable Energy, Entrepreneurship and other contemporary developments in industry and commerce.
- Facilitation of networking forums for UNESCO-UNEVOC Network and other membership organizations.
- Encouragement of the building of a critical mass of regional TVET leaders through sharply focused discourse.
- Facilitation of hi-tech displays and exposition by leaders in industry & commerce
This Second International Conference on TVET in the Caribbean is an opportunity to continue to strengthen the role of TVET in the development of the workforce of the region, in order for it to become world class and internationally competitive. The gathering of representatives and persons who are engaged in TVET across the region and beyond, will provide the platform to address practical problems and advance solutions that are relevant and applicable to some of today’s challenges.
School of Education
The University of the West Indies