First National Technical College Fair exposes students to career options

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First National Technical College Fair at Melia Nassau Beach Resort, February 17-19, 2019. (BIS Photos)

The inaugural Bahamas National Technical College Fair is the beginning of a new approach to this field of study that the Ministry of Education believes will assist with its vision to equip and empower students for life after high school. Keyshan Bastian, Assistant Director of Education, said attempts are being made to dispel the myth that career and technical education is for students who “cannot”. “There’s an academic component of technical education as well as a hands on component; we want persons to understand that. Coming out of this, with the cadre of colleges that are here students will understand that you can be enrolled in a certification programme or you can be enrolled in a degree programme, which is an academic qualification.

“The vision is that you get as many schools from Canada, the USA — wherever they would come from — and are willing to meet with our students and say to them what the criteria is for enrollment, the qualifications they can earn and the prerequisites.” Ms. Bastian said it is hoped that the Fair would result in articulation agreements and memoranda of understanding between the Government of The Bahamas and local and foreign colleges. Over 1,000 students along with school counselors from various public and private schools, as well as parents attended the 2-day event at Melia Nassau Beach Resort.  Stakeholders included the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour and the Bahamas Union of Teachers. The theme was “Empowering the Workforce: Strengthening the Economy.”

Participants included Senator Jamal Moss; Director of Labour, John Pinder; and Belinda Wilson, President, Bahamas Union of Teachers; Sharmaine Sinclair, Assistant Director of Education/ Planning and Research; Shirlean Burrows, First Assistant Secretary; Education Officers Pearline Baker, Patrice Green, Iris Strachan, Zoe Powell and Clevette Gibson, coordinator. Senior high school counselors, school principals and parents were among the attendees. Representatives from 15 leading colleges in The Bahamas, Canada and the United States participated in the Fair which provided college options for technical students in grades 9, 11, 12, and members of the wider community who are interested in matriculating at technical colleges.

Ms. Bastian said the fair provided students with the opportunity to compare institutions, interact directly with college representatives, enquire about schools and their programmes, the visa process, the enrollment process, scholarships and more. “It is our hope that having been exposed to all that they will be exposed to, the colleges in the United States and Canada, that leaving and coming back they will bring with them the skill sets that they need to face the challenge of satisfying the skills gap that we now recognize in our country,” she said. “Having completed studies at the institutions represented we know that when they return, the skills gap in our country will be satisfied by our very own Bahamian students.”

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