Port Maria Vocational Training CenterSt Mary St Port Maria Port Maria, Saint Mary
telephone: view phone876-725-0423, 876-994-2004, 876-994-9666
The Port Maria Vocational Training Centre (VTC) is one of sixteen Vocational Training Centres in the HEART Trust, National Training Agency system islandwide and is aimed at providing training to enable economic growth and development of the community and the nation.
The Port Maria centre opened in the 1970s, but closed and reopened in the 90s under the Ministry of Education. It was taken over by HEART in 1994.
The Training Centre is managed by Andrew Walters who has been with HEART/NTA for twelve years but has been with the Port Maria branch for two years and seven months. Upon leaving high school, Mr. Walters joined the HEART school leavers programme. He then trained with D&G Limited after which he entered the Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI).
Mr. Walters then became an instructor at the Old Harbour HEART in 1996. He was promoted to senior instructor and again promoted to head of section after which he got his promotion as manager. He was transferred in 2006 and has been with Port Maria HEART since.
Mr. Walters stated that since HEART has taken over the institution there have been more courses offered and more structured operations. Since being operated by HEART, the institution has also conformed to the National Council on Technical Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) standards. He added that the structure of the school is the same with the exception of the staff room extension. He said that some of the workshops have also been changed and courses have been dropped to accompany others.
There are 18 full time staff members, ten of whom are instructors and eight support staff. In addition to that they also have 12 part time instructors. There is an administrative assistant that is responsible for the admission and assessment process and the school also has a store keeper which is responsible for sourcing materials and is responsible also for the institutions assets. The head of section and senior instructor is responsible for the day to day running of the institution.
Courses are offered at level I or level II. A majority of the courses are offered at level II. Level II courses are heavily subsidized by HEART and persons trained at level II work under limited supervision and only pay an admission fee of $3,000. Level I courses are fully subsidized by HEART and trainees have to be under close supervision.
The institution offers training in motor vehicle repairs, construction, front office, early childhood care, industrial maintenance, food and beverage, food preparation and housekeeping. In the immediate future, the institution is also looking forward to adding training in allied health care, furniture making, concreting and painting to their list of courses. In addition to these are some core or compulsory subjects an individual must do along with each course. These include mathematics, English, information technology, entrepreneurial skills and, for the applicants who choose the field of construction, technical drawing.
All the offered areas are also available in evening classes which begin at 5:00 and finish at 8:00. The day segment runs on a shift system. Morning shift starts at 8:30 and finishes at 2:30 where the afternoon shift picks up and ends 7:30.
On completion of each unit the students are assessed. They get an internal assessment and an external assessment. At the end of the course, students that have acquired the full competence are given a NVQJ certificate by the NCTVET body. Also, if the individual is deemed competent, they will be added on the National Qualification Register (NQR). NQR is a web- based application. In order to be added to the NQR, the student must have a birth certificate/ TRN number or passport; these documents all have a number and the number is used to generate the NQR number. This along with the NVQJ certificate will enable persons to be qualified worldwide.
To be enrolled at the institution applicants have to be at least 17 years old. There is no upper age limit for applicants. They will also have to satisfy the grade nine standard of work. This is assessed by doing an entry test. For the other individuals who have CXC/GCE/SSC subjects they are accepted and the diagnostic test is not required as these exams would have shown that they have exceeded the grade nine level of work.
Students at the Port Maria VTC are from in and around the St. Mary Capital, Port Maria and as far as from St. Ann’s Bay and Golden Grove, St. Ann. Also to be enrolled, individuals must have a tax registration number (TRN) and if they are in the field of foods training must have a food handler’s permit.
At the Port Maria VTC,courses last between nine months and a year. This also depends on the pace of each student and how quickly they grasp the information.
The school set its enrolment target for the year at 1139 students and has exceeded it for this term. Each class is to consist of 20 persons, to accommodate all, the Port Maria VTC has offsite campuses at the Brimmervale High School and the Highgate Gospel Chapel.
The institution engages students in extra curricular activities such as debates, sporting activities such as football, cricket, netball and basketball. They also have a drama club.
HEART gives students the ability to move on to other institutions in their field of study by offering scholarships.
Mr. Walters declared that a lot of their students have graduated and moved on to owning businesses and some even come back to work with the school. “We want to train persons so that can come back into the system,” Mr. Walters said.