A Wallet of Qualification

Education is defined as a social good and as such has been given prominence in all Caribbean Territories. Education is seen as the engine to power the way we behave and our readiness for employment.

Consequently, there is a deep interest in the Caribbean in how we are doing in educating our children as a region and how the children are performing. The measure of success or satisfactory completion of secondary education is five CSEC® subjects including English and Mathematics.

The same measure is being used, with some variations for entry into higher education institutions as well as the world of work.  However, since CSEC® was introduced in 1979, almost forty years ago, some new products have been developed by CXC to address some of the issues and concerns repeatedly expressed by our stakeholders.

More significantly, it was observed that many secondary school leavers did not have a skill that would facilitate their entry into the world of work. The aforementioned products encompass skills that include but are not limited to the ability to communicate well, to work in teams and solve problems.  As a region, we sought to address this.  The Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC®) as well as the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ)* was offered in 2007 to prepare school leavers with the soft skills and the work skills. The CCSLC® is described as a course of study that equips learners with the skills to communicate, solve problems, think critically, work in teams, manage emotions, resolve conflicts and deal with diversity and change.

“The education and development obtained via the CCSLC will lead to the enhancement of social skills and a better understanding of the world of work and business by potential employees.” Jacqueline Cooke-Lloyd

UKNARIC, the designated body in the United Kingdom responsible for recognition and comparison of international qualifications conducted a benchmarking of CCSLC in 2014 and concluded: “…the study has found that the overall aims of the CCSLC have been well reflected in the design of the programme. Alongside traditional subject knowledge, the subject syllabi are clearly underpinned with a core set of objectives related to the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will help prepare students for higher level secondary studies in the CXC participating territories but also provide them with a range and breadth of skills that should enable them to integrate with secondary studies in the four international systems examined.” Submitted to the Caribbean Examinations Council by UK NARIC

The CVQ* which was supported by the Education for Employment project and funded by the Canadian Government, offers school leavers the opportunity to obtain entry-level skills in over one hundred occupational areas. The areas include Data Entry Operator and Commercial Food Preparation, which are the most popular areas pursued so far.

“Implementation of the CVQ in partnership with industry would serve to maximise the region’s resources and indeed realise the vision of a highly competitive, skilled workforce for the region,” this according to  Pauline Whiteman, Manager, Programme Development and Management Department, National Training Agency in Trinidad and Tobago

Given the above, the call is being made to employers to go beyond the five CSEC qualifications in considering school leavers for employment but instead consider the full suite of offerings when advertising for and selecting potential employees. The wallet of qualifications will include CSEC®, CCSLC® and CVQ* and is designed to prepare potential employees with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the world of work.