Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim says the labour shortage has eased and he believes his recent tours of most of the manufacturing plants in T&T contributed to that improvement. For several months members of the business community had been complaining about a shortage in labour which they blamed on Goverment programmes such as Cepep and the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) which were attracting most of the available manpower.
Speaking to reporters following yesterday's signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Red Deer College (RDC), the University of T&T (UTT) and NESC, Karim said the labour shortage had been "reduced substantialy." "I want to continue that exercise of Meet the Manufacturers" and finding out from them what are the shortages which still exist. It is important for us to refine the curriculum which employers would say that they require.
It is important to ensure that (the graduates) have market relevant skills." Karim wants NESC and UTT to meet with the manufacturers. He said the MoU facilitates training of technical and vocational teachers at the Canada-based RDC. "The Ministry of education is a partner in this project. We will be training the teachers in the education system towards preparing them better as technical and vocational teachers," he explained.
"Teachers are the first deliverers of the curriculum and the competence of the teachers is critically important for the learning outcomes and the quality of the graduate," he said. "It is about ensuring that the teachers have the requisite work ready skills that they can pass on to our students." In response to complaints about a labour shortage, in mid-January Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar met with members of the business community.
Officials of the American Chamber of T&T (AmchamTT) and the T&T Manufacturers' Association (TTMA) were mandated to devise a plan to filter workers from Cepep into the private sector. In late May, ten manufacturers signed a MoU with the Ministry of Tertiary Education to address some of the labour problems they have faced and since then several initiatives have been implemented to treat with the shortage.