The COVID 19 pandemic and the resulting accelerated use of digital technologies is changing the way we live and work. These developments have the potential to drive technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems to improve their ability to identify future skills needs and to widen access to opportunities for skills development. Schools, training centres and universities play a leading role in promoting innovation in their local skills and innovation ecosystem.
The Education Sector of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, together with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information of Jamaica, invited TVET teachers, trainers and directors of training institutions in Jamaica to identify new challenges and opportunities for the TVET sector to sustainably address the structural weaknesses and gaps revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure continuity of learning and skills development. Nearly 400 TVET managers took part in the virtual workshop “Strategies for continuing Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Jamaica” on Thursday, 19 November 2020, from 3 to 6 pm, virtually via zoom.
In her introductory remarks, Dr. Winsome Gordon, CEO, Jamaica Teaching Council, MOEYI Jamaica, gave an overview of the current situation of TVET programmes in Jamaica. She opened the following discussions to explore the availability of tools, resources and materials available to ensure the continuity of TVET training programmes during the pandemic, as well as ways to explore synergies between sectors and entities.
Dr. Everton Lewis, Senior Lecturer and Programme Director, Technical University of Jamaica, Mr. Ramon Iriarte, UNESCO Programme Specialist for TVET Education at the UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, Santiago, Dr. Marcia Rowe Amonde, Senior Director for TVET Development and Support Systems at the HEART Trust NTA and Ms. Pauline Whiteman, CEO Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies (CANTA) each chaired a group session to explore promising practices for sharing knowledge and experience on practical solutions, tools and methodologies, including the use of ICT and new technologies in vocational education and training and the development of partnerships.
After their return to the virtual main room, the groups exchanged their main discussion topics, such as their greatest challenges and strategies to build a more resilient TVET sector. Participants identified limited access to resources and the transition to digital learning as the main challenges for skills development in the post-pandemic world. While some teachers stated that they have adapted quickly to the new digital learning environment, they still find it difficult to reach their students. Teachers unanimously agreed that since the outbreak of the pandemic in Jamaica, they have a greater workload.