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If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it: ensuring quality education and training to ride the digital wave (Part 2)

In part 1 of this blog we discussed how automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other technologies are transforming the workplace and shifting the demand for skills around the world. In part 2 we will zone in on the Caribbean situation and look at how countries in the region are responding to the global demand for a new type of labor.

Jamaica leading the way in quality assurance in the Caribbean

Promisingly, many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are starting to critically look more closely at their quality assurance systems and are taking concrete steps to strengthen them. Jamaica, through its national training agency, HEART-Trust/NTA, is leading the way in the Caribbean and has been closely collaborating with the IDB in designing a US$15 million program to promote quality skills development to respond to shifting skills demands. While the country boasts an institution, the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training or NCTVET, under HEART-Trust/NTA, that is solely dedicated to looking after the quality assurance of the technical and vocational education system, it has recognized that there is a need to evolve to keep up with technologies that are transforming the workplace and shifting the demand for skills.

While the NCTVET has robust methodologies in place to approve and accredit institutions offering TVET programmes, it seeks to increase its focus on critical inputs (like teachers’ quality and methods, learning materials, training duration) and learning outcomes related to training effectiveness such as the degree to which students achieved their learning objectives and whether they were able to secure jobs post training. Moreover, the NCTVET is moving towards creating a public registry of training provider performance to increase transparency and accountability and provide accurate information on the quality of training providers to individuals seeking training.

NCTVET is also taking steps towards enhancing the types of assessments it provides and their relevance to what is being demanded by employers. Focusing on the development of a pipeline of talent for the Global Services Sector – one with large employment potential for Jamaica – it is developing new assessments in partnership with the industry that can more accurately measure the level of job-readiness of the students that partake in HEART-Trust/NTA’s programmes.

Lastly, while HEART-Trust/NTA proxies quality primarily by using information from trainees’ satisfaction and labour trajectories surveys, it would like to more comprehensively capture employers’ feedback about the quality of learning. For this, it plans to develop employer surveys and create a talent platform through which employers can more easily provide their feedback on the training providers with whom they collaborate when they partake in joint training efforts.

Improving the quality assurance of its skills development system is a priority for the Government of Jamaica. Under the premise that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”, Jamaica is setting the standards high, laying a strong foundation that will enable it to fully reap the benefits of the digital revolution that is already well underway. We hope others will follow.

 

Fernando Pavón is a specialist in the Labor Markets and Social Security Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) based in Jamaica. Since starting at the IDB in 2004, Fernando has worked in offices in Honduras in supervision / project implementation collaborating with the World Bank as a Junior Professional Associate in the preparation of the country strategy. He also coordinated educational technologies activities in the Education Division of the IDB in Washington D.C. from 2010 to 2012. From 2013-2015, Fernando was in charge of the preparation and supervision of Labor Markets programs in El Salvador. He currently focuses on private sector engagement synergies for skills development and apprenticeships programs. Fernando has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

 

Raquel Fernández is part of the Labor Markets Division of the Inter-American Development Bank based in Washington D.C., where she works on the design and implementation of projects in the areas of future of work, public-private partnerships for skills development, and youth employment. Co-author of the publication “Apprenticeships for the XXI Century: A Model for Latin America and the Caribbean?”, over the past few years she has advised governments in the Caribbean and Central America on the design of national apprenticeship programs and other types of skills development programs. Before joining the IDB, Raquel worked in Economics Unit of the Sustainable Development Department for the Latin American and Caribbean Region of the World Bank and at the Competitiveness Promotion Council in her home country, Costa Rica. She has a BA in Psychology from The University of Chicago and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

 

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