Soft skills should be integrated into TVET programs

first_imgDear Editor,I crave your indulgence of allowing me some space within your newspaper to share my views on the Technical Vocational Education and Training program in Guyana.Recently, I noticed the Education Ministry pursuing the development of TVET in various regions. In January there was a contract signing for the design and construction supervision of three TVET facilities in Regions three, four and five.Earlier this week, a similar engagement for the same purpose was signed for facilities in regions one and seven. Based on reports in the media, these facilities will be better able to deliver training in areas such as masonry/plumbing/steel fixing, electrical installation, furniture making/carpentry and joinery, garment making, housekeeping and graphic design.Editor, this is commendable by the Ministry of Education to be injecting funds into developing TVET areas in Guyana. With the skills that will be taught, Guyana can expect the renewal of a workforce of skilled men and women in the aforementioned areas. Some can move on to gain employment in those fields while others can become entrepreneurs, opening their own businesses and even becoming contractors and bid for Government contracts.My concern, however, is although we will have a skilled workforce, we must remember that many of the students of these courses may not be the most ‘polished’ bunch, despite their intellectual capabilities.Some will have sharp edges as it relates to their personalities and people skills. I, therefore, humbly submit, that the Education Ministry, when implementing these programs make provision for subjects that address customer service and care so that the ‘soft skills’ of students can be developed.This will allow them to know how to deal with their clients. We must remember that in a lot of cases, these trained young men and women may have to interact with their clients directly. They will not have the opportunity to hide behind a trained customer service agent as yet, particularly those that will venture out to become entrepreneurs.Let us imagine for a minute a young lad, trained as a mason and has to provide an estimate to a client in his community for the concreting of a yard. That freshly-minted mason will have to be taught the importance of politeness and professionalism to provide the said estimate and even further, to respect the importance of sticking to deadlines and reporting inabilities of finishing or not finishing within given timeframes.The teaching of soft skills borders on communication skills. These subject areas can teach students various techniques of improving communication between themselves and clients which will augur well for good customer relations. This is important since we are encouraging persons to venture into entrepreneurship and become their own ‘bosses’. It will benefit them since their good service will build their reputation in a positive light, securing for themselves, future jobs.Many people complain about their interaction with tradesmen particularly, saying that they possess no ‘people skills’, that they are ‘rough, rugged, crude and ill-mannered’. Being able to do the job correctly is good but customers also want persons that they can talk to and interact in a friendly manner.When we implement these programs, we must think holistically by not just focusing on the main skills but also developing the individual completely into becoming a well-rounded Guyanese.With that said Editor, I repeat my commendation to the Education Ministry for acknowledging the need for improved TVET services being offered to students. I encourage the education officials and the Education Minister to continue developing the education sector in Guyana. We are going in the right direction.Yours faithfully,Elizabeth Williamslast_img

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