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Business leaders react to CXC suggestion

Monday, September 10, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Several business leaders have reacted to the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) suggestion that employers diversify employment requirements by also requesting qualifications outside of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).

The CXC's proposal comes against the background of what the regional examination body's Registrar, Glenroy Cumberbatch, noted is the thousands of students who have been failing CSEC.

Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) President, Hugh Johnson, said the suggestion, which has been endorsed by Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator Ruel Reid, would be a “welcome move”.

Johnson told JIS News that it is “something that the small-business sector has been clamouring for".

He cites instances of challenges with some jobseekers, particularly recent graduates of secondary and tertiary institutions, in terms of meeting employment requirements, especially where these are solely grounded in CSEC academic qualifications.

“For too long there [has been] a misfit when you engage [some graduates] for services and operations. We believe that academic qualifications are very necessary, but these can also be twinned [or alternated] with practical applications, so that they [graduates] can be more effective in their service to the business community when they would have ended years of training,” Johnson added.

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) Past President, Warren McDonald, argued that the consideration depends on the job category, noting that “the necessary qualifications will vary”.

“If [for example] you want a welder… you want somebody who has some basic training that will prepare them for that job. Doing history and geography wouldn't really prepare that individual for that job,” he told JIS News.

“So, although you need some basic academic training [in] mathematics and English, for example, there are others that certain jobs would require, which some basic qualifications would provide a better basis [for] than straight CXCs,” he adds.

Nonetheless, McDonald said he endorses the proposal, in principle, emphasising that “[I] think we need to diversify job recruitment qualifications… but bearing in mind that certain basic academic training is necessary for all jobs. Mathematics and English, I think, [are] fundamentals”.

Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF) President, David Wan, said the organisation needs more details on how the proposal and its benefits can and will manifest.

He noted that the standard employment requirements for most Jamaican employers revolve around persons having CXC/CSEC qualifications.

“What we don't want to do is [to] just shift wholescale without understanding exactly what the big picture and mechanics of the [proposal] are. We want to hear more details… in order to give an opinion as to whether or not we are 100 per cent behind this. So, we are seeking information from the authorities and the Caribbean Examinations Council on that,” Wan added.

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