Trust National Training Agency
The HEART Trust was established by the HEART Act of 1982 to provide employment and training opportunities for skilled and semi-skilled persons for the labour force. In 1992 it was updated by amendment to the Act to become the National Training Agency, mandated to coordinate, facilitate and enable the development and growth of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
The Agency by way of its policies and objectives endeavours to have developed and maintained a TVET delivery system that is industry-led and quality-focused in its operational processes and its products/services.
In order to be responsive to the demands of industry and to sustain quality throughout the TVET System, the organization's policies dictate that standards will be a central mechanism that will help to guide the development and delivery of its TVET programmes and support services.
HEART Trust/NTA has spent the past several years laying a foundation for a more consolidated training system by bringing under its umbrella most of the non-formal training programmes operated by the public sector. This process is essentially complete; in 1970 the Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI) was established with assistance from ILO/UNDP to train and develop instructors and administrators for vocational training programmes. In 1991, it was incorporated into the HEART Trust/NTA and has since undergone substantial upgrading and expansion in order to respond more appropriately to the professional staff needs of the revitalized National TVET system.
In keeping with its new mandate, the VTDI was accorded tertiary status by the Ministry of Education in 1992. With this new status, the VTDI has been upgraded and expanded to become the centre of excellence for TVET professional staff development, while still providing advanced technical training opportunities for senior workers to upgrade their skills for high level certification.
The mission of the VTDI, as the professional staff development institution of the HEART Trust/NTA, is committed to influencing, promoting and sustaining a high standard of professionalism and performance in the TVET system, by example, and through the timely supply and support for competent, qualified and highly motivated TVET professionals (instructors, administrators, etc.), who are committed to the task of building and maintaining a competent and productive workforce to meet the needs of the labour market. Its objectives are:
To monitor and keep abreast of the professional staff demand/supply situation within the TVET system through studies, survey and research.
To introduce new strategies and techniques to ensure the most efficient and cost effective means of training and development for TVET professionals to maintain currency and respond to new demands.
To train, develop and ensure an adequate supply of quality professionals to operate in the TVET system.
To foster and maintain a high professional standard among TVET professionals through collaborative initiatives with local, regional, international professional bodies and institutions.
FOCUS ON INSTRUCTOR TRAINING AT THE VTDI
The vocational instructor is a learning facilitator. He/she functions between the inexperienced trainee and the body of Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes which is to be acquired/developed. He/she performs the functions of the catalyst in the learning process in facilitating change and development of the students/trainees.
As a facilitator and change agent, the vocational instructor performs the following primary functions:
· Analyzes jobs and job related problems;
· Analyzes the training curriculum for relevance, completeness, etc.;
· Analyzes/defines instructional objectives;
· Plans learning activities, projects, etc.;
· Assesses learning styles and plans instructional methodology and strategy;
· Plans, organizes and develops learning resources/aids;
· Plans and organizes testing and evaluation activities/strategies;
· Plans, organizes and manages the programme including workshop/laboratory and other related facilities;
· Prepares and conducts demonstrations and makes short technical presentations;
· Assesses and evaluates students performance/work;
· Supervises and monitors students' progress;
· Develops problem-solving skills by confronting students with new problem situations;
· Encourages intellectual disciplines;
· Inculcates desirable habits, attitudes and values (an example, a role model).
Technological issues impacting on the Caribbean economies have put new pressures on technical and vocational teacher education in terms of challenges to update their mandate in order to remain relevant to the real needs of the communities and people whom they serve.
There is increased competition on a regional and global scale in the race to keep up with the latest technological innovations, as well as, having the ability to adapt quickly to new technology. The rapidity of change in information technology is evident. Information technology, when considered as the convergence of computer technology and telecommunications opens up a new world of opportunities within vocational Teacher Education in that it:
· Enriches the content of education and training, and facilitate the transfer of technical knowledge from the more advanced world;
· Improves and render more effective the delivery of that content;
· Motivates learners;
· Facilitates individualized instruction;
· Maximizes the use of skilled personnel who are scarce, by facilitating the distance delivery of instruction.
The VTDI as a leading institution in Instructional Technology has responded to the need for technological content within TVET teacher education by constantly investigating and experimenting with appropriate innovative technology.
It recently commissioned a state-of-the-art Autotronics Laboratory for providing advanced training in automotive technology. Other innovative initiates are being planned as a means of influencing the moves to appropriate technology in the process of training and development as well as industrial business practices.
The VTDI also has on its premises a Computer Laboratory which came into being in September 1996 to respond to the needs of training instructors as part of their course requirement, and employees of HEART Trust/NTA through evening and weekend classes.
One of the greatest threats posed to vocational teachers is the risk of poor quality or a lack of information technology equipment for use after training.
The VTDI is currently piloting a distance teaching programme for instructor training and development. This programme is a part of the regional programme sponsored by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). The COL programme commenced in October 1996 and includes thirteen candidates, i.e. seven females and six males. It uses technological facilities such as teleconferencing and regular multi-media workshops.
The HEART Trust/NTA as part of its technical services has its own Curriculum Development unit which services the VTDI with its curriculum and supporting materials. The Instructor Training Programme at the VTDI is Industry-led. The curriculum is generated from the occupational standards specified for each technical area identified for instruction in particular skill areas. (See Appendix II).
The curriculum for the Instructor Training Programme, covers general education, technical occupational studies, pedagogical studies, communication, methodology and work ethics. A full curriculum covering Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes - has been approved by the National Council for TVET for the certification of vocational instructors, covering a total of three thousand, five hundred and sixty four hours of instruction including teaching practice and industrial attachment.
There is a constant evaluation of the Curriculum in an attempt to keep in line with the occupational standard for each area and continually develop and improve for the sake of delivery. (Refer to Appendix 1 & 2).
Itinerant Training Programme
Due to the geographic spread from which the VTDI would draw trainees and the demand for field training, the VTDI runs instructor upgrading courses in centres across the island for instructors both within the formal and non-formal sectors.
It is consistent with the general Diploma programme. Centres are strategically placed and tutors deliver instruction on a regular time-table basis in the evenings. Skills upgrading and computer studies are conducted at the VTDI during the summer semester (July to August).
INTERNAL SUPPORT SYSTEMS TO THE VTDI
The certification of individuals is a function carried out by the recently formed National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET). Its main function is that of accreditation of programmes and institutions, with the intention of streamlining the variety of certification being offered by agencies and institutions operating in TVET.
Accreditation of Prior Learning
Historically, in Jamaica, the people within the educational system who were considered not to be 'academic' or very bright, were directed to go and learn a 'trade'. Over the years, these people have gained a wealth of experience and have become experts in their skill areas. However, many of them lack the basic academic entry requirement for entry into training as instructors.
The NCTVET is presently in the process of introducing an Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) system which should allow recruiters at the selection and recruitment stage to give credit for entry according to the level of work experience, identify the potential for successful training and as a basis for the certification of appropriate competency based skill levels.
To ensure that TVET customers, both internal and external, have a common understanding of the requirements for training in specific occupational areas, the Agency has developed a system of Training Regulations for each skill area to guide the development and delivery of training. These regulations serve to advise the inputs as they relate to materials development, administration, instruction, training provisions, assessment, recruitment and placement as part of the training requirement. (See Appendix III).
Media Services Centre
The Media Services Centre is the information service facility that provides a variety of resources to support the development of Technical and Vocational Education and Training. The department further provides a comprehensive training database and information retrieval system to meet the needs of its users. It plays a pivotal role in the development of library documentation facilities in the TVET system and in the promotion of the work of HEART Trust/NTA.
It is fully resourced with up-to-date materials and resources for the benefit of trainee instructors. The resources include instructional support materials, library, CDs, graphic/audio-visual. Instructors are exposed to the process of establishing and managing a Media Services centre.
A primary purpose of this facility, therefore, is to provide the service of information management and dissemination in the TVET system.
Professional Guidance and Information Services
The Professional Guidance and Information Services (PROGIS) was established in 1994 as a project aimed at developing vocational guidance material and upgrading the skills and development of counsellors, instructors/teachers and trainers to use these materials. Out of this project grew the PROGIS Department whose objectives are:
· To establish and maintain effective working relationships with agencies, entities and individuals that are integral to the labour market.
· To maintain adequate organizational arrangements for research and evaluation, information management, administration and related support services.
The programmes and services offered by this department are:
· Workshops and seminars for counsellors and teachers
· Assistance in establishing career information centres
· Research and development of materials
· Working with parents through PTAs
· Staff development seminars
Each instructor is a counsellor by nature of his/her job and in this light it is very important that in training, the instructors are exposed to the basic skills and other components of guidance and counselling. It is as a result of our belief in this idea that the professionalism and career development programme has been introduced at the VTDI.
In the instructor's personal life, there is need for planning and personal development and through exposure to occupational information, and labour market information (e.g. changing world of work or changes in the workplace), instructors can have a clearer picture of where they are going and what plans they need to put in place for themselves and so become more focused. This can enhance self concept/esteem and result in more efficient instructors.
Instructors who are more aware will give better directions to those they instruct thus, creating a more aware workforce.
The tertiary system in Jamaica has never been properly articulated because it includes a number of institutions with varying degrees of autonomy and differing in mission, purpose and philosophy. These institutions have at various stages in their history developed courses in response to the perceived needs of their constituencies and over the years very little has been done to ensure that articulation takes place within and between the different levels of the system. In some cases, programmes are even duplicated from one institution to the next. Articulation is therefore, necessary not only to facilitate the transferability of students from one level of the system to the other, but also to reduce wastage, thereby making the system more cost-efficient.
Various initiatives have begun in order to address this issue. While the recent National Industrial Policy recognizes the fledging efforts at articulation between the University of Technology and the Community Colleges, it demands the creation of appropriate mechanisms and measures for articulation between all tertiary institutions. Seminars have been held to focus on some of the related issues and a working group has now been established to spearhead the articulation process.
HEART Trust/NTA has recognized the need for articulation within the Jamaican system as a whole and more specifically, as it relates to VTDI trained instructors to allow for smooth and clear progression from one level of training to the next.
HEART Trust/NTA and the University of Technology (UTech) have begun the process of formalizing articulation between both institutions and also to be part of the process involving the University of the West Indies (UWI), the community colleges, teachers' colleges and other institutions within the tertiary system, specifically as articulation relates to Instructor training and progression.
The Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI), is the professional centre responsible for the on-going training and development of instructors and trainers for the system, continually assessing quality of its output in order to make appropriate adjustments and fine-tuning of its programme and arrangements.
To this end, Instructor Evaluation is regularly conducted as well as annual evaluation of VTDI trained instructors in the field. The trained instructors are evaluated against the four areas of competency for which they are trained and certified.
Issues Related to the Jamaican Experience
Profiles of an Instructor - Competence
The National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) of the HEART Trust/NTA has responsibility for ensuring that the Instructors who are certified to operate/practise in the TVET system are competent. Therefore, the training is competency-based. Competence relates to four specific areas:
(a) Technical or Occupational Competence;
(b) Academic Competence;
(c) Pedagogical or Professional Competence;
(d) Personal qualities or Attitudinal Competence.
We are experiencing recruiting problems due to a lack of the availability of sufficiently qualified technical workers to train as Instructors.
We need to be able to offer better salaries to attract and keep vocational Instructors.
The Instructor Training Course at the VTDI started as a six (6) months programme. During this time the training attracted high quality skilled people who only needed the instructional skills. This was soon to change and it was found that on the whole, applicants were younger with a stronger education base but quite weak in the skill areas, The programme was then extended to a three (3) year Diploma programme in an attempt to meet the needs of the type of trainee instructors coming into the system.
Training & Development
If the programme is to be made more relevant for training purposes the training needs of each applicant must be assessed at the pre-entry stage so that the competency gaps can be identified and addressed rather than the individual covering the whole three year programme and repeating areas in which they already have high competency levels. This will also allow for training to be completed in shorter periods. The new modularized system within the VTDI should accommodate this process. The VTDI is presently working on the development of such an instrument in collaboration with the NCTVET.
Categories of Instructor Trainees
There are three categories of Instructor Trainees:
(a) Full-time Pre-service;
(b) In-service - Itinerant, Summer - In-service training takes place through the itinerant programme and includes summer workshops at the VTDI;
(c) Pre-service/In-service Mix.
(a) Testing and Assessment - There is the need to collaborate more closely with the NCTVET, who is responsible for testing and measurement, to set guidelines, vet, monitor and administer tests;
(b) Certification Body - Need to devise some strategies/procedures;
(c) APL Model - A mechanism needs to be established.
(a) Image - Technical vocational education has always suffered from a stigma -not good enough, etc. Instructors were graded differently from academic teachers. The VTDI's mandate is to move vocational training from a backward world to the future; not to be satisfied with mediocrity, but with the kind of excellence which will move vocational training from its relegated second class position to being on par and beyond academic education.
(b) Compensation - As our training is industry-led, there is a need to continually assess whether the output matches the requirements of industry.
- Alignment with Industry v. Alignment with education - We need to ensure that Instructor training programme includes relevance of school to work - preparing people for industry awareness.
The VTDI as a respectable Institution which produces quality products is mission critical by nature. To this end, it believes that despite the recent developments in TVET Instructor training through the VTDI and the technological advancements in the Computer Laboratory and Autotronics state-of-the-art equipment, the VTDI remains committed to providing the avenues to pursue excellence and to develop the TVET instructors upon whom we are dependent to deliver quality instructions to produce the calibre of workers required for participation in the global market place and the subsequent Economic Development of Jamaica.
The TVET system will only be as good as the instructors who implement the programmes. At present, there are growing concerns regarding the quality and sufficiency of instructors in the system. The formal part of the TVET system accounts for the greater number of these instructors.
This is a prevailing area of concern for the VTDI and the Jamaican TVET system as a whole. However, a range of programmes are being instituted to address this concern.