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Spell out the skills – TT Newsday

Posted: July 5, 2021 at 1:51 am

EditorialNewsday ReporterJust NowIn this February 2021 file photo, Tunapuna Secondary School form five students Rayanna Pantin, Jada Mayers and Vivek Ragbir conduct a physics experiment in the school laboratory. The government has said it would guide students into areas that align with the national development agenda, but that agenda has not been clearly articulated. - ROGER JACOB

Leader of Government Business in the Senate Clarence Rambharat is correct to note that TT needs more than medical professionals in training.

In his other role in governance, Mr Rambharat has the challenge of reviving and streamlining the agriculture sector, a critical aspect of the nation's development that is also suffering from shortfalls in skilled, innovation-focused labour.

Speaking in the Senate on Wednesday, he was explaining the National Bursaries Programme, which is expected to take up some of the slack from the downsized scholarship programme.

Labour Minister Stephen McClashie also pointed to the needs for skills training and retooling at a webinar on Saturday, so it's a matter on the agenda of Cabinet.

When the Education Minister announced the new bursary system in November 2020, she suggested the change would offer funding for more students, estimating that one scholarship could fund three bursaries.

The initial changes replaced 400 scholarships with 100 scholarships and 400 bursaries. The adjustments were supposed to focus the programme and allow, the minister said, for "greater equity in distribution of (the) precious resource."

Data from the scholarship programme between 2010 and 2105 indicates that 42 per cent of students pursued studies in medicine and health, 20 per cent in engineering and technology, 13 per cent in science and technology, 12 per cent in social sciences and five per cent in natural sciences.

That breaks along the lines of the general perception of higher education as career-building, the idea that a doctor or engineer will have a successful career in TT.

In calling for more uptake in other areas of study, the Agriculture Minister noted, "There are many other areas of study which are equally important and are critically required for the holistic development of TT in accordance with Vision 2030."

That's good to know. But what exactly are these study areas?

What is the government's plan for encouraging relevant skills training for students, in a world in which most major companies can only forecast talent demand with a five-year outlook?

Students planning a course of study for an intended career need more than the broadly expressed notion that more skills are needed.

In December, Public Administration Minister Allyson West said the government would use the bursaries to guide students into areas that align with the national development agenda.

It's time for that agenda to be articulated clearly. Decisions about career paths don't begin in university, and Cabinet's dreams of scholastic adjustments need to start early to be effective.

The government must map its futuring of the country's overdue economic diversification with the kind of transparency that should inspire a secondary school student to see his or her role in it.

Continued here:
Spell out the skills - TT Newsday

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