Technical and Vocational training for St Lucians

St Lucians will once again have the privilege of gaining some of the best qualifications from the UK and Europe’s leading professional membership and warding body. City and Guilds is a global body with over 8500 centres spread across 80 countries providing over 500 qualifications in every major industrial area.
Their statistics show over two million learners have achieved City and Guilds qualifications in just last year alone and many more are expected to be awarded with qualifications in Business, Construction, Hospitality and Catering, Engineering, Agriculture, Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy and many other areas of interest.
According to the regional manager, Guy Hewitt, City and Guilds has been in existence over 130 years and was also readily accessible in St Lucia through Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC).                 However, he stated, the relational bridge between SALCC and City and Guilds broke down a few years ago which warranted his presence in St Lucia earlier this week to offer the college the option of providing for their students the opportunity to access a wide range of qualifications that is recognized across the globe.
“When we talk about the region, our work is primarily of the English-speaking Caribbean because we offer English based examinations. However, we do have centers in Canada, US, Central and South America. City and Guilds is the leading provider for certification in Technical and Vocational training globally.
“What I have come to St Lucia to do is really to build relationships with Government, Private Sector, the training agencies such as Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and the Education system because we
opened and Caribbean office last year as a way to be able to provide a more effective out-reach to the Caribbean,” said Hewitt.
Hewitt explained further the reason for his presence in the region not only sensitizes training agencies but strengthens the relationship and in some cases re-establishes broken relationships with City and Guilds.
“There has to be the new message of education and training needs to be enforced. Also, although the Caribbean has benefited traditionally or in the past from traditional academic training where people have trained in medicine, law, accounting and those traditions, where the 21st century and where technology and innovation is pushing us calls for people with new skills set and that’s where the technology training comes in.”
Hewitt pointed out after a just concluded meeting with SALCC that the largest body of students at the college is currently enrolled in the technical division and the largest demand for programs at the college is for technology. This, he says, is where the economies and jobs will be in the future.
“One of the things I was also reassured by in St Lucia is that technology and technical training seems to have an equal parity of esteem; it is not considered to be secondary and one of the challenges we have faced over the Caribbean and globally is that people always felt that you did technical training if you could not excel academically. That is no longer the case—we have situations now where doctors, lawyers, accountants and others who went through the traditional process of education are either unemployed or underemployed simply because they have
been going into traditional areas that may have high status nut now have low economic and financial rewards.
“Anyone who knows trades persons know that they are not only self-employed but they do very well now financially. You are now increasingly seeing people look at trades, looking at vocational educational training as now the first consideration rather than a residual ‘if you can’t do something else’ and now you are seeing a trend across the region. Even in Secondary schools some curriculums are being equipped to provide technical skills and not just the academics.”
Hewitt talked about how far City and Guilds qualification can take someone career wise: “We have qualifications that will take you up to level seven which is equivalent to master’s degree post-graduate studies. If someone says they want to be a technician, a technician is a professional area of vocational level which can be as high as they would want to take it.”
City and Guilds’
regional office is located in Barbados and works with local training agencies such as SALCC and other skills training centres to make these qualifications readily accessible to learners.

City and Guilds regional manager Guy Hewitt.

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