A high level delegation from the UCJ led by Dr Carolyn Hayle, Chairman, and Mrs Althea Heron, Executive Director, supported the JCTE and HEART Trust/NTA Edu-TVET conference, held at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Montego Bay on December 8 and 9, 2016.

The conference theme: “Developing a Quality Culture through Effective Leadership in Higher Education & Training towards Superior Technical Leadership Skills & Competencies in Education & Training,” attracted senior administrators from across government, educators, presidents and principals of institutions from Jamaica and overseas.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, the keynote speaker, said that it is important that the country understands that his Administration is embarking on a road where education is a top priority and will be expanded to ensure access for all, regardless of status.

“A day will come in this country when someone will have a degree in auto mechanics and be considered on equal status with someone with a degree in law. That is the objective of this Administration,” he said.

Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid said that 80 per cent of graduating students from now on should, by age 30, have the equivalent of an occupational degree or higher. The minister also said that every Jamaican worker is to be trained and certified.

“… The mantra from now on is that zero to age 30 are the learning years, while 30 to 60 are the earning years. 60 and above will be the returning years,” he said.

Mrs Heron, who brought remarks on behalf of the UCJ, said: “The UCJ believes in and values diversity in the tertiary education sector, and is firmly behind and supports the need for alternative pathways towards tertiary education. It is fundamental that we rethink our approach, and our attitude toward Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and the role these skills play in the development, and the sustainability of nations.”

She added: “To this end, the UCJ is currently working closely with the Centre of Occupational Studies in developing Standards for the Occupational Associate Degrees.”

Mrs Heron also announced that in 2017, the UCJ will be celebrating 30 years of “Assuring Quality in Tertiary Education.”   Two key features for the year will include the 12th Annual Quality Assurance in Tertiary Education Week, from March 6-10, 2017; and the UCJ’s 30th anniversary celebrations in October.