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17 March 2011

Exchange to strengthen apprenticeship programs in Jamaica

Marlon and Omar presenting to the working group

By Marlon Maulsby, WorldSkills Champion in Web Design, Team Jamaica 2007

With the vision of sharing best practise and know-how, Tjerk Dusseldorp, President of WorldSkills International and Chairman of the Dusseldorp Skills Forum, pooled an alliance of experienced professionals from Australia and Germany to visit Jamaica. This visit allowed this remarkable group of people to review and suggest a way forward for apprenticeship programs in Jamaica. The Jamaican Youth Forum provided an opportunity for youth to share their perspective of the apprenticeship systems in Jamaica, extracting their perspectives on how it could be enhanced.

The week got off to an interesting start at a welcome reception hosted by the Minister of Education, the Hon. Andrew Holness. A dinner was arranged prior to the Youth Forum to allow for youth representatives to meet with the international visitors. It was at this dinner that Tjerk Dusseldorp announced Australia’s invitation to the Jamaican WorldSkills Competitors to visit Australia. This visit would allow the Competitors to train alongside the Australian Competitors and even compete in the Australian National Skills Competition.

The Jamaican Youth Forum
The Youth Forum brought together approximately thirty young people from universities and high schools across the island as well as WorldSkills Champions. We deliberated for approximately one hour and forty five minutes around the issue of apprenticeship in Jamaica, seeking to iron out clear and specific objectives that would help to enhance such a system in Jamaica. Within that time we analysed 8 points developed by Omar Johnson, a WorldSkills Champion in Web Design in Helsinki 2005, Finland and Alia Wedderburn, WorldSkills Champion in Hairdressing in Shizouka, Japan 2007. These eight points acted as the basis of our perspective on enhancing the apprenticeship system in the country.

All efforts culminated in a presentation to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Audrey Sewell. The presentations were well received.

Moving forward, the apprenticeship working group will be very strategic in its implementation of the suggestions in the presentations. Initially efforts will aim at finding means by which we can detach the stigma associated with vocational skills and education. In addition to that we will seek to identify all existing groups that are, in some way, seeking to empower young people through apprenticeship, so that the effort can be centralised and coupled together.