Congratulations to the University of the West Indies, School of Education for organizing the 5th International Conference on TVET in the Caribbean! It is an honour to be involved in this initiative, a historic meeting of Technical Vocational Education and Training stakeholders—local and international. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world of work seriously threatens access to vocational and technical training and education, working conditions and opportunities for current and future employment, jeopardizing the livelihoods and well-being of thousands of young people across the Caribbean. While measures to isolate the virus intensify across the region, training institutions have had to suspend their face-to-face activities.
The focus for this year’s conference on “Creating Opportunities in a Global Pandemic” highlights the importance of cultivating skill sets relevant to nation building and long-term economic growth in our region. The demand for courses associated with distance learning, handling online learning platforms, online trainer training and many other occupations involving digital skills is experiencing an unusual surge in the first measurements carried out by some job consultants. The conference’s motif is in keeping with the UWI, Mona Campus’s mandate to impact communities towards global economic competitiveness, and to lead the Caribbean’s education sector in re-engineering its academic delivery, to foster sustainable national and regional development.
Further policy planning and implementation will benefit from the evidence clarifying the challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact that online TVET was promoted much more during the pandemic than it was pre-COVID-19, might pave the way for new TVET delivery under the “new normal”. Professional guidance for online training delivery is also needed for TVET instructors because they still use the traditional in-person curriculum and pedagogy for online teaching. TVET could also benefit greatly from the use of medium- tech solutions using online collaboration technologies. The new high- tech solutions, such as simulation and virtual laboratories could also enable practical training online.
Many thanks to the generous sponsors for their interest in the creation of this advocacy platform for integrating sustainable principles in regional TVET policies, practices, and programme delivery. I am confident that this virtual summit will fully engage all relevant public and private stakeholders. It is my hope that the discussions that will result from this forum will produce significant outcomes that will contribute to regional and global sustainable development that has TVET as a central pillar. My very best wishes for a successful conference!
The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, through its School of Education, is pleased to partner in hosting the 5th International Conference On TVET in the Caribbean. As a global university grounded in regional realities, we consider it our duty to ensure that our people have access to the best education in all areas. This is why The UWI has been integral in advancing the provision of high-quality technical and vocational education up to the graduate level. If we are to truly support regional development, we have to ensure that our people are trained and capable of meeting the challenges of a rapidly evolving global landscape.
Life as we know it has dramatically changed shifted in light of the challenges associated with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need for physical distancing has meant that almost all sectors are now relying on digital networks to sustain their operations in the virtual space. The impact on the workspace is twofold. First, all workers now require technical skills as we contend with manipulating technological software and hardware to carry out daily tasks. At the same time, the demands of the time means that those who are professional technical and vocational workers must seek to advance their training and education if they are to help us keep up with these demands. It is fair to say that the pandemic is creating an opportunity for TVET as globally we are now confronted with a reality that demands that technical education be treated as a core area of training for all of our people.
As we confront our new realities, we can do so with some confidence as we can rely on a cadre of skilled technical and vocational workers. We have a solid foundation because of the deliberate partnerships between regional governments, educational institutions, and corporate entities who partnered to raise awareness about the importance of TVET and deliver high-quality TVET programmes
The visioning of the years past has secured our present. We must build on the foundation that was laid and ensure our collective futures. As we see new careers taking greater pre-eminence because of the economic realignment precipitated by the pandemic, we must strengthen our collaborations so that TVET can be expanded to impart the skills that our people will need to take on these roles. Companies can best articulate the needs of the various industries and with their support our schools, colleges and universities will be better placed to enhance and deliver TVET programmes that are in keeping with the economic realities of the day. We must make space too for greater mentorship so that entrepreneurs can have necessary guidance to bring their innovations to fruition and do their part to support regional development.
As the world shifts amid this global pandemic there are many opportunities for us to redesign our societies so that they are beneficial to all. I hope that we will continue to leverage TVET to support our region as it continues to grow and develop.
The University of Technology, Jamaica is pleased to be among the partner institutions associated with the staging of the 5th International Conference on TVET in the Caribbean.
The conference theme focused on “TVET: Creating Opportunities in a Global Pandemic” is timely and relevant in highlighting the imperative within all industries, of creating innovative growth opportunities in the global digital economy. Within the context of the myriad challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fitting that this conference is shining a spotlight on the commitment of Caribbean regional institutions to harness knowledge of TVET to foster innovation, in solving problems and improving the quality of life for humanity.
The University of Technology, Jamaica shares in the commitment to TVET education which is well integrated into our academic delivery as a flagship programme of study. Through the School of Technical and Vocational Education in the Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies, the University continues to provide technical educators for our secondary school sector. This is part of UTech, Jamaica’s record of contribution to the Caribbean in preparing teachers in TVET education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The role of TVET in supporting Sustainable Development Goals through, innovation, entrepreneurship, wealth creation and workforce development, is increasingly being globally recognized as an imperative.
This conference will go a far way in strengthening the platform for integrating TVET education and training in support of best practice solutions and policies for regional development.
I extend my very best wishes for a successful conference.
HEART/NSTA Trust is pleased to endorse the staging of the Fifth (5th) International Conference on TVET in the Caribbean, being held under the theme: “Creating Opportunities in a Global Pandemic.” As the theme suggests, the Conference this year is being held against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and I anticipate that is will emphasize techniques and approaches being embraced by Organisations worldwide as they adjust and remain relevant. HEART is no different in its approach to pivoting to ensure business continuity and it is my fervent believe that in many instances, entities like ours become stronger in the face of these challenging times.
As we embark on the journey of three days of dialogue on Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), I urge all conference delegates to make the time to reflect on how the landscape within which we operate has changed over the past year. We must also ponder how collectively we can pool our resources towards to goals of reducing unemployment, upskilling our workers, and transforming the workforce. This as training and certification are important pillars in driving economic growth and development towards a sustainable future for generations to come. Since 2012, when the first Conference was held, the Organisation has been focused a few areas of TVET to include human capacity development, industry engagement and quality in TVET.
As a longstanding partner for this conference, HEART remains committed to being a driving force behind the innovation and change needed to remain relevant in this changing world, even as we seek to continuous be agile and responsive in our approach. The Organisation is noted for being trendsetters in the area of Technical Vocational Education and Training not only in the Jamaican context but in the wider Caribbean. We take pride in this achievement and reaffirm our sustained and unwavering support towards strengthening TVET across the region.
I am excited about the journey this TVET conference will take us on and I am looking forward to the wealth of information to enhance existing knowledge with the great exchange of ideas over the three days of dialogue. I commend the organizers for their vision and all collaborating partners for their insights and wisdom.
Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the national, voluntary membership organization representing publicly supported colleges, institutes, cegeps and polytechnics in Canada and internationally. CICan’s presence in the Caribbean is through the Skills to Access the Green Economy (SAGE) program. The SAGE program aims to increase the capacity of local training institutions to deliver gender-sensitive skills training programs that meet economic and environmental needs in the region, by leveraging the expertise of Canadian colleges and institutes. It also encourages the participation of adolescent girls and women, youth and vulnerable populations in demand-driven technical and vocational education (TVET) fields. The program is offered in Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica & St. Lucia.
Welcome Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the national, voluntary membership organization representing publicly supported colleges, institutes, cegeps and polytechnics in Canada and internationally. CICan’s presence in the Caribbean is through the Skills to Access the Green Economy (SAGE) program. The SAGE program aims to increase the capacity of local training institutions to deliver gender-sensitive skills training programs that meet economic and environmental needs in the region, by leveraging the expertise of Canadian colleges and institutes. It also encourages the participation of adolescent girls and women, youth and vulnerable populations in demand-driven technical and vocational education (TVET) fields. The program is offered in Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica & St. Lucia.
From all of us at CICan, we hope you enjoy this virtual conference.
On behalf of the UNESCO, represented by its Cluster Office for the Caribbean, I am pleased to express that we are honoured to be a longstanding partner with the University of the West Indies, School of Education for the fifth International Conference on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the Caribbean.I wish to begin to applaud the achievements made by the Conference Committee to highlight the socio-economic value, as well as elevate the positioning of TVET as a central mechanism for advancing decent work and economic growth in the Caribbean region. UNESCO believes that TVET empowers individuals, organizations, enterprises, and communities and fosters employment, decent work, and lifelong learning thereby promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth and competitiveness and social equity. As the United Nations specialized agency for education, UNESCO is advancing the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which aims to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all" by 2030.
Reflecting upon the common challenges of the region, the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean positions youth empowerment as one of the two thematic priorities. The Special Initiative for the Caribbean (SPIC), 2017-2021, harnesses the great potential with an integrated approach to sustainable development. The theme of this conference, "TVET: Creating Opportunities in a Global Pandemic", in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the accompanying accelerated use of digital technologies, reminds us that the way we live and work is constantly changing. With the new COVID-19 work environment, TVET is confronted to explore new solutions to adapt to the new reality. This fifth Caribbean conference therefore shall lay the foundation to creative and innovative ways of delivering TVET during a pandemic. The temporary closure of the tourism sector in Jamaica, the major economic driver, also taught us the importance of enhancing the capacity to identify future skills needs and expand access to skills development opportunities for young people to prepare for and adapt to the rapidly evolving world of work.
I thank the University of the West Indies, School of Education and all conference partners for their critical investment of time, competence and resources in Technical and Vocational Education and Training and for organizing this conference for showcasing the priorities, landscape and aspirations of TVET in the Caribbean.
We look forward to a robust and successive engagement!
In today’s world, TVET needs to be transformed to support economic development and productivity and offer people skills for successful lifelong learning and work. In the wake of COVID-19, the need for transformation is even greater and more urgent: on average, 15% of total employment and 8% of formal employment has been lost in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), with employment losses larger for women and youth; student dropout in LAC is expected to increase by 15% from already high levels because of school closures; the number of NEET youth (not in education, employment, or training) is expected to increase by 21% in the LAC region from already high levels (22% in LAC, 23% in the Caribbean, 36% in Jamaica, in comparison with 4% in Iceland and 18% in Peru, for example); those graduating soon will face greater challenges to find work.
We therefore need systems that are flexible and agile to respond to new and old challenges using digital transformation, change management, and innovation. The IDB is supporting technical education projects across the LAC region with a focus on four new tendencies that are changing the face of TVET: (i) artificial intelligence and automation; (ii) the aging of the population and the need for lifelong learning; (iii) climate change and the transition to green economies; and (iv) diversity and inclusion, taking into consideration migrant populations and persons with disabilities.
TVET initiatives offer opportunities to reduce youth unemployment, secure skilled workers, and create alliances with the private sector and industry. We can use TVET to develop skills in new industries and improve LAC’s productivity and growth perspectives. This is why this conference is of paramount importance. The IDB is very pleased to be involved in this event, and we are committed to continue supporting technical and vocational training activities across the region.