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16 March 2011

GTA and international engagement - it begins in Jamaica

James Barron with members of the working group

By James Barron, Executive Director, Group Training Australia

Late January effectively marked a new chapter in the life and times of Group Training Australia (GTA). For the first time the GTA Board agreed to send a small representative delegation abroad as part of a bigger Australian & European education & training delegation. The delegation’s mission was to Jamaica and it took place between 23-29 January, 2011.

The invitation came from the Jamaican Government following their hosting last October of the WorldSkills International General Assembly and Leaders Forum. Jamaica is a developing country and like so many other developing countries is grappling with a number of major economic, financial, social and cultural challenges. Near the top of the ‘to do’ list is how to reform existing education and training structures and approaches so as to better prepare itself to compete in a highly competitive global market as well as to educate and train its youth. Much work has already been done in Jamaica but much is still before it. In devising the program and in discussions with WorldSkills International’s President, Mr. Jack Dusseldorp, the Jamaican government indicated substantial interest in the Australian group training model and how its features may be applied to suit various aspects of the education and training system in Jamaica.

Following Jack Dusseldorp’s formal approach to me in November last year I took the offer to the GTA Board which unanimously endorsed the view that this (the international space) was a space that the national association should now be more enthusiastically embracing. The GTA delegation was comprised of GTA Chair Iain McDougall, MEGT CEO David Windridge and me. Other members of the delegation included: Jack Dusseldorp (WorldSkills International), Ms. Kaye Schofield (Interim Chair of the National VET Regulator), Kerrie Stevens (Dusseldorp Skills Forum), Kay Sharp (Hunter Valley Training Company & Hunter Youth Mentor Collaborative), Martin Williams (Global Training Business Development, Festo), Alan Ballagh (RMIT Vice-President).

I can advise that early reaction from both the Jamaican government officials and those of delegation members confirms that this trip was indeed a great success. Reciprocity and exchange will be critical in maintaining the momentum achieved through the week’s worth of meetings, engagement and discussion and it is my sincere hope that one of the next steps will involve planning for a delegation from Jamaica to visit Australia. I will provide the GTA membership with a more detailed analysis of the trip for the 2nd GTA Network quarterly magazine in 2011.

For more information visit GTA's website.