The Institute for Workforce Education & Development (I.W.E.D.) was official relaunched at a ceremony held today on Eureka Road in Kingston.
The brainchild of Manpower & Maintenance Services’ (MMS) founder and CEO Audrey Hinchliffe, I.W.E.D. aims to get Jamaican workers certified. It was first launched in 2005 and in 2012 was rebranded. In 2017 it was accredited at Level 2.
I.W.E.D., a wholly owned subsidiary of the MMS Group of Companies, has emerged from being the training unit within the MMS Human Resources Department where recruitment, training and placement became the underpinning of good facilities maintenance services.
Giving some background to the genesis of I.W.E.D., Hinchcliffe said: “So impressed were our valued clients with MMS’ trained workers, they started requesting training for their workers who were carrying out similar services inhouse. The growing call for training and certification signalled to MMS that a business was at hand, hence I.W.E.D was launched in 2005.
“Fast forward today, we are here to relaunch and celebrate yet another phase in the development, growth and expansion of I.W.E.D. as it takes its place as a Higher Education Institution, University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) and a Higher Education Broker and Provider, Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (JTECH).
“Additionally, I.W.E.D. is an Accredited Training Organisation (ATO) by NCTVET and an Independent School under the Ministry of Education and Youth. In this regard, we can say “my, we have grown!”.
I.W.E.D will be headquartered at 17 Eureka Crescent in Cross Roads.
Damion Crawford, opposition spokesperson on education and guest speaker, said Hinchcliffe serves as an inspiration to all Jamaicans and that her legacy of seeing to it that the country has a trained workforce will live on, particularly in light of the fact that, today, 70 per cent of the workforce is not certified.
“Training is essential for our people and I.W.E.D. provides recovery for those who didn’t get the opportunity for an education. A World Bank Report declared that Jamaica is 53 per cent less productive without a trained workforce.
“Jamaica is, for all intents and purposes, a service economy. It is not led by manufacturing that requires machinery. A service economy is reliant upon the human element. We need workers who are trained.”
Crawford went on to say that he had engaged Hinchcliffe’s company to clean his fowl coup and it did such a great job that he thought about moving staff into it. He encouraged entrepreneurs to use Hinchcliffe’s services.
Julian Robinson, MP for the South East St Andrew constituency in which I.W.E.D. resides, and who is also the Opposition spokesperson on finance, said training is essential for the country’s youth and development and commended Hinchcliffe for her efforts.
“Training, particularly our young people, should in fact be part of our crime plan. If we don’t get our young people trained, it will lead to anti-social behaviour. Productivity needs to improve in Jamaica. We must give Jamaicans hope and opportunities. So many young people between the ages of 17 and 30 have no skills,”
Wayne Chen, who is the chairman of I.W.E.D., noted that upskilling the workforce has been a passion of Hinchcliffe’s for some time.
Chen declared: “When you look at Jamaica’s education system’s return on investment, it has not been very good and this has been the case for decades, regardless of what party is in power. Jamaica spends more of its GDP on education than many other middle-income countries but what does it have to show for it?
“It is said that a well-trained, educated and socialised country does not remain poor. The most important ministry after Finance should be Education. We haven’t taken the plantation method out of education. For 60 years we have had the opportunity to change things. It cannot be on the shoulders of the state alone.
“We have to make education fit for purpose. You have to be always upgrading your skills.”