Mon | Sep 27, 2021

Training school in limbo

NCTVET in ‘La La Land’ transition for three years

Published:Thursday | July 29, 2021 | 12:09 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Grace McLean, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education.
Grace McLean, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education.
Mikael Phillips, committee member, said NCTVET appears to be in 'La La Land'.
Mikael Phillips, committee member, said NCTVET appears to be in 'La La Land'.
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The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information declared on Wednesday that they had not had oversight responsibility for the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) for at least the last three years.

Chief technical director in the OPM, Wayne Robertson, told members of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) that the NCTVET had been reassigned to the education ministry from HEART Trust NSTA since 2018.

However, Dr Grace McLean, acting permanent secretary in the education ministry, told committee chairman Mikael Phillips that the NCTVET was in transition and not yet within the ministry’s structure.

“So it is basically in ‘La La Land’,” Phillips replied.

Arguing that three years had passed since the HEART Trust NSTA had been divorced from the NCTVET, Phillips again questioned: “Who owns that child?”

McLean said that there was a series of processes that “we have to go through when you are moving one entity from one body to the other. We are almost at the end. It has really taken a lot of time because you are talking about the legal requirements and other requirements to make sure that the staff are also comfortable”.

But even as Phillips sought to ascertain who was now providing oversight for the entity, it was clear that neither of the two ministries had taken on that role.

Robertson contended that “this has been a grey area, but we are guided by the assignment of subjects for which September of 2018 shows that the NCTVET falls under the ambit of the ministry of education”.

“As far as I am aware, the HEART Trust NSTA pays salaries, but in terms of directly overseeing their operations, I am not aware that that was being done by the HEART NSTA Trust,” he added.

He told the committee that the OPM was “very concerned” about the situation because “we are very serious about governance, and if it is that an entity is under our portfolio, then we are very clear as to how it is that we proceed to monitor and collaborate with that entity”.

Robertson said that the attorney general has provided preliminary comments on a draft Cabinet submission regarding the NCTVET.

Committee members expressed concern that in the absence of oversight from a parent ministry, the agency could end up breaching government policy and guidelines.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com