Senator the Honourable Fazal Karim, Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training has announced that thousands of unskilled agricultural labourers will now will be able to benefit from certification after the Agriculture Now Training Unit was certified as a Workforce Assessment Centre on Wednesday June 24th 2015 at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training, Port of Spain Office.

Minister Karim said the Workforce Assessment Centres would use the Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) programme to continuously assess labourers who may not have the necessary qualifications in their specific areas of expertise, “What this does is recognize your skills, talent and knowledge as well as your aptitude while you are being assessed on the job. What this does is make you marketable and it serves to increase your self-esteem and your self-worth and makes you more competitive because now you can say I was awarded with some degree of recognition. We intend also to be going further with the Workforce Assessment Centres and will award you with an actual qualification, and this means not only will you get a pay packet but now you will have a certificate called the Caribbean Vocational Qualifications or CVQ.”

The CVQ qualification according to Minister Karim had its genesis in a 1990 CARICOM/TVET Strategy where Caribbean regions wanted to ensure one vocational qualification that would be recognized across the board. He said, “In Jamaica it was called the NVQJ- National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica and in Barbados it was called the BVQ – the Barbados Vocational Qualifications and what we did was bring them all under one umbrella to form the CVQ, and this simply means you can go anywhere in the Caribbean and the qualification be recognized.” Students who possess four CXC subjects and CVQ certification will be able to do the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).

Minister Karim also mentioned the tremendous work of a farmer who allowed YTEPP to use his home as a Workforce Assessment Centre and who asked to sit in on the classes, “Dindial Sikumar would sit in on the classes and take notes and after the classes were complete and the villagers from the area graduated, he hired them all to grow peppers for him. He went on to brand his pepper sauce and one day when I was travelling on a local airline carrier I saw his pepper sauce being used.”

Steve Arman, Chief Executive Officer of the National Training Agency said the approval of the Agriculture Now Training Unit (ANTU) as a Workforce Assessment Centre is their 23rd approval and he said, “This means that there are 22 occupational areas that can be assessed, and allows ANTU to deliver on the maximum promise of its purpose and its progress.”

Also in attendance were Senator the Honourable Devant Maharaj, Minister of Food Production, Permanent Secretary Desdra Bascombe, Ministry of Food Production, Deputy Permanent Secretary Jasmine Pascal, Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training, Dr. Bibi Ali, Coordinator, Agriculture Now Training Unit, Kimberly Gay, Assistant Programme Director, Agriculture Now Training Unit, Elvin Scanterbury, Ag. Superintendent, Youth Training Centre and Helen David, Public Relations Officer, Servol.