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Sep 23, 1998

Gov’t sees vocational education as key to growth of economy

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Talking about ten thousand houses and fifteen thousand jobs is a lot easier than actually doing something to transform these campaign promises into reality. Today, at ceremonies marking the opening of classes at the Center for Employment Training in Belize City, officials made it clear that it’s their intention to form solid linkages between the nation’s educational system and government’s strategy for economic growth. Patrick Jones reports.

The first day of classes for the new school year, marked another milestone in the history of the six year old institution. For the first time since the Center for Employment Training opened its doors in 1992, the student population has gone beyond four hundred. Manager of C.E.T. Stans Bowman says the school had to turn away some applicants while at the same time making internal adjustments to accommodate the new class of 1998.

Stans Bowman, Manager, C.E.T.

“We had over eight hundred students applied to come into the Center for Employment Training, so we had to sort of reform our intake process and reform the way we do things, to increase the enrollment to give them opportunity to pursue their aims of specialty and interest. We have the resources, but also we are moving into a bit of self sustainability where we will increase resources by utilizing those resources out there in the world of work to get the sort of hands-on training that cannot be simulated in the classroom. Because we are a skills-oriented institution, there is a lot of strategies that we can use to develop the skills that are needed to develop within our trainees.”

One of two guest speakers at this morning’s ceremony, Minister of Housing Dickie Bradley, told the trainees that government remains committed to providing vocational and technical education wherever it is needed.

Dickie Bradley, Minister of Housing

“In every district town in this country there will be a C.E.T. What we want to do is send a message from early that the new government, despite the financial situation is forging ahead with the plans to provide service to our people, especially the young people who are the ones who are going to build this country.”

And speaking of building, Bradley encouraged the students to grasp all they could because he claimed that when they graduate, jobs will be readily available as the building of the promised ten thousand homes will be in full swing.

Dickie Bradley

“There has been traditional in Belize, the view and a certain bias towards the academics. This country is expanding rapidly. As you know there is a need for persons especially for example, in the electronics field, in the area of mechanics. Look at the number of vehicles in Belize and you have a problem finding a good mechanic. In all the various areas, in the matter of the commitment to build ten thousand homes in this country, there will clearly be a need for plumbers, for electricians, for carpenters, for a whole host of employees, for workers and that is where C.E.T. is going to come in.”

C.E.T. Manager Bowman says there will be no new programs added to the curriculum, although computer science is a field they very much want to enter. Bowman says the increase in students who are seeking to get into C.E.T. is an indication that young people are becoming more aware of the role that they will play in shaping the nation’s future.

Stans Bowman

“It’s a growing importance for vocational and technical education. For too long, I believe, and this is my honest opinion, that we have maintained emphasis on the academic track. We have seen now that we are speaking about global competition; we are speaking about a global economy and in order to compete we have to have a high level work force, which means that we have to be diverse, not only the academics but also in vocational, technical education which will attain this type of work force which will be capable of competing globally.”

The first step towards that goal started today. Patrick Jones for News Five.

In his address this morning Minister of Education Cordel Hyde said that government’s commitment to vocational education was demonstrated by its appointment of a full time coordinator of Centers for Employment Training. He is former permanent secretary Carlos Perdomo.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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