Speaking at the Education Labour Connect Initiative hosted by his ministry earlier today, Dr Wheatley said with local employers largely looking overseas for employees, it is important that students try to obtain advanced levels of qualification to make themselves attractive for job offers that appear.
“I believe you upgrade yourself by going into tertiary education. You make yourself more marketable. Dr [Richard] Georges described all the great programmes that you have at the [H Lavity Stoutt Community] College (HLSCC) that can help to equip you for the workforce,” the Education Minister said.
“So, we believe it is a good decision for people to go from secondary education into an institution like H Lavity Stoutt and then you can decide what pathway you take from there. Whether you want to go straight into the workforce or get a Bachelors or a Master’s degree and of course, H Lavity Stoutt has been a good bridge for tertiary education,” Dr Wheatley said.
Dr Georges — HLSCC’s president — echoed the sentiments of the Education Minister in relation to pursuing tertiary education after secondary school.
“The BVI has become a more global player and the community have become more internationalised. While it might have been feasible for Dr Wheatley and our generation to plan to enter the job market out of high school, it has become a less and less feasible pathway as job seekers in the community have become more competitive,” Dr Georges said.
“Quite frankly, adding tertiary education is a necessity for a job seeker, it does not necessarily mean they are going to pursue an academic credential like an Associate Degree. But it could very well mean that they want to enter into the marine industry and the construction industry. We are not conflating or equating tertiary education with academic credentials. It simply means what training you are going to pursue post-secondary. So, they are going to come to the college to pick up that professional certification before they go into the job market,” the college’s President added.
BVI News recently spoke with several students in Grade 12 — an additional year of secondary school instruction — and many expressed concern that the programme is simply a stop-gap solution that does not necessarily prepare them for the workforce or tertiary education.
Dr Wheatley noted his ministry made an assessment of the additional year and sought to answer what they were trying to accomplish. He said by the time students are finished with secondary school, they should be ready for tertiary level education or be prepared to enter the labour market.
“During the investigation of the purpose of the additional year, we’ve made some decisions. For those persons who are qualified, they’ll forgo that additional year and go directly to the community college to do an Associate Degree programme which gives credits towards doing a Bachelor programme in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and other places,” the Education Minister said.