Education Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley announced this among several new plans and policies to be implemented during the 2020/2021 academic school year.
Dr Wheatley was speaking at the 2020 Teachers Professional Day press conference and said the programme is more geared towards students who are more inclined with their hands than with academics.
“I have granted permission to the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies to pilot a vocational trade grade at the institution where selected students will be the first to follow a course specifically geared towards helping students get employment-ready skills and knowledge for particular occupations.”
“By graduation out of secondary school, the students in this programme would be work-ready and able to receive certification in their chosen field as well as their secondary certification from the Virgin Islands system,” he added.
The minister further said there will be an apprenticeship aspect within the programme whereby students can take advantage of by familiarizing themselves with their potential career choice.
“It will allow for a more skills-oriented curriculum along with an apprenticeship programme which would see students attending school for three days per week, and attached to industry for two days,” the minister stated.
“Similarly, the alternative secondary education programme will introduce an apprenticeship programme. It will be a supervised work-based programme with a duration of at least one calendar year for each cohort; after which the apprentice will have a final assessment and be certified,” he explained.
Dr Wheatley also said the technological and vocational education and training council will be revived this year.
He said the main functions will be to advise on policy and prepare plans relating to technological and vocational education and training that follows national policies and economic needs.
The council will also monitor and make recommendations to ensure agreed plans are implemented, recommend standards, and give advice on the coordination of technological and vocational education, and training at all levels of the education system.
Dr Wheatley further said plans have already begun to set up the previously-announced Education Advisory Board within the territory this year.
He said members of the board will include past and present educators, representatives from the business and religious community, as well as a parent and a representative of higher education.
“This group will advise me as minister on education matters on the growth and development of the education sector,” he stated.
Dr Wheatley further said he will also be taking steps to establish a special education council in the BVI.
He said the council will be tasked with reviewing the already-existing student programme within his ministry and provide guidance to further strengthen it.
The council will have an education officer whose role will play a significant part in the council and its functioning.