JAM | Mar 18, 2023

HEART NSTA Trust abolishing tuition and administrative fees up to associate degree level

/ Our Today

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Trainees from the HEART College of Hospitality Services (HCHS), demonstrating some of the culinary skills they have acquired in a young chef competition on February 16, 2023. (Photo: Facebook @heartnstatrust)

Durrant Pate/Contributor

The HEART/NSTA Trust, leading provider of technical vocational education and training in Jamaica, will remove all tuition and administrative fees for its programmes up to level 4 (associate degree) effective April 1, 2023.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who made the announcement during his budget debate presentation in Parliament on Thursday (March 16), outlined a strategy to reinvigorate the national training and youth development organisation in which recruitment will be boosted along with programme offerings to meet demand.

In removing the tuition and fees, Holness stated, “this will allow for access to vocational training for all Jamaicans regardless of economic status. This will be a game changer for poor underserved youth, who see fees as an obstacle for participation in formal training.”

Prime Minister Andrew Holness making his contribution to the 2023/24 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives, on Thursday, March 16, 2023. Photo taken March 16, 2023. (Photo: JIS)

He articulated that HEART/NSTA Trust has been directed to modernise its offering in response to the trend worldwide towards automation, smart manufacturing, artificial intelligence and high-value services.

To this extent, the organization, which was created through a merger of HEART Trust, National Youth Service and Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, is developing Centres of Excellence and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Labs at several of its institutions.

Building out STEAM labs

• The HEART College of Innovation and Technology will focus on information security, mobile application development and mobile robotics.

• The Chocolate Hole Campus will offer vocational training such as optoelectronics, mechatronics, robotics, programme logic control, geomatics and geospatial services, industrial electronics and renewable energy.

• National Tools and Engineering Institute has established a STEAM Lab focused on training in renewable energy, with additional labs to come which will offer training in instrumentation, electro-hydraulic, pneumatic, electromotor controls and CNC programming.

• HEART College of Construction will host a Centre of Excellence focusing on welding and industrial automation.

• Ebony Park Academy will host a Centre of Excellence with a focus on soil testing and tissue culture.

Forging partnerships

The prime minister articulated that HEART Trust/NSA will continue to forge strategic partnerships with stakeholders to provide competent and certified workers to meet industry needs.

Examples of these partnerships include:

• Amber Group Limited – This partnership was established to promote software innovation in Jamaica through the training of coders and software developers through the Amber HEART Coding Institute. Five hundred youth will be trained under the agreement. Two cohorts have been trained and all have been employed. The government considers this a pilot programme, for a much larger initiative which is being developed to train coders, data scientists and software engineers in Jamaica.

• China Harbour Engineering Company Limited, is the largest construction company operating in Jamaica, and is probably the largest employer of skilled and unskilled, local and foreign workers. On the signing of the Montego Bay Perimeter Road construction project, the government made it a condition that there must be technology and skill transfer to locals, therefore all untrained workers must go through a process of training and certification. This partnership was forged to facilitate the training and certification of up to 1,000 workers in various skill areas to meet the needs of the Construction Sector including general construction, electrical installation, welding, and carpentry. Recruitment has commenced with youth engaged from St James communities including Irwin, Tucker, Norwood, Cornwall Courts, Rose Heights, Farm Heights and Green Pond.

• HEART Trust/NTA will also partner with Jamaica Defence Force to boost recruitment through the e Jamaica National Service Corps programme by 2,000 trainees. The trust will also continue its collaboration with the Ministry of Education HOPE/LEGS programme to provide a special internship for 500 promising 5th and 6th form graduates who have not matriculated to further studies, to secure placement in Government entities or with other private sector partners for a period of one year. During the internship, participants will be supported with a stipend of J$70,000 monthly and assisted with opening bank accounts, passports and other civil documents.

The Oxford Road, corporate headquarters of the HEART/NSTA Trust in New Kingston. (Photo:

There will also be a savings component where each candidate will receive a lump sum of J$120,000 after completion. They will participate in core employability skills and personal development training, but their functional development will come through on-the-job exposure and mentorship which, after an evaluation could lead to permanent employment.

“I am confident that the special programmes outlined, along with the traditional programmes and the removal of all access charges and fees, will significantly increase the number of persons seeking training to join the workforce. It will also reduce the structural mismatch between the skill requirements of the market and the level of skills available in the workforce. Madam Speaker, we are the Labour government. We believe work is the way to your independence and prosperity,” Holness declared.


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