Merger of HEART Trust, NYS and JFFL ‘will reach more unattached youth’ – PM

Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking in Gordon House on Tuesday (Photo: R. Fraser, JIS)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness opened the debate on amendments to the Human Employment and Resource Training Act (2019) in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 29).

The legislation makes the necessary legal provision for the merger of the functions of the HEART Trust/NTA with the National Youth Service (NYS), the Apprenticeship Board and the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFFL).

The Prime Minister said that the merged entity, to be called the HEART Trust/National Training and Service Agency (NTSA), will ensure that “no Jamaican youth is left behind or unattached from institutions of learning and training and personal development”.

He said the objective is to reach more unattached youth, steer and mentor them, with greater opportunities to work, learn, earn, give back through service and save for the future.

“The merger has opened the doors to many who had been shut out for years. Until we took the decision to merge the entities, many unattached youths were turned away from one agency and redirected to another, and in the process, many fell through the cracks.

HEART Trust/NTA’s Oxford Road offices in Kingston (Photo contributed)

“Now, every single person who knocks on the door of the HEART Trust/NTA is given a road map for a productive life and meaningful future through training and development, whether it is through the HOPE programme, through adult learning and certification programmes or through our conventional and traditional training programmes,” he said.

PM Holness noted that the merger is consistent with the Public Sector Master Rationalisation Plan to create a more efficient and effective public service by the amalgamation of public bodies and agencies that share synergies of functions and resources.

The Prime Minister said the act will streamline training processes; clearly establish the rights and obligations of trainees, employers and the HEART Trust/NTSA; provide for such transitional measures as necessary to facilitate the smooth transfer of administrative responsibilities to the trust; and provide for the issuance, validation or recognition, as required, of certificates or other academic qualifications, distinctions or awards to current and former participants of the training programmes now merged with the HEART Trust.

Photo: R. Fraser, JIS

He said the merger of the functions and resources of the entities will solidify several benefits, such as the rationalisation of programmes and systems to efficiently and effectively meet the education and training needs of Jamaicans; eliminate the duplication of administrative and other functions; facilitate the full alignment of remedial training, technical and vocational training and support of the employability skills programmes.

“It will create a total training institution for Jamaica that will track the life cycle of all Jamaicans and support their training needs at all stages,” he added.

The 17-clause Human Employment and Resource Training (Amendment) Act, 2019 was tabled by the Prime Minister in March this year during his Budget presentation.