JAM | Sep 18, 2023

Jamaica needs more engineers to meet its developmental needs – Clarke

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Gov’t offers full-tuition engineering scholarships to boost graduates

Dr Nigel Clarke, minister of finance and the public service, making his opening contribution to the 2023-2024 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives.

Finance Minister Nigel Clarke says there is high demand for more graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), which are required for the country to meet its developmental needs.

Clarke, who was speaking at the opening of Jamaica of Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE) Engineers’ Week on Monday, September 18, said: “We want to make the transition where the people are concerned where our highways and our project and that is going to come over the next several years can be done by Jamaican skilled persons, engineers and other professions.”

The finance minister said that with the momentum at which the country is moving, there is going to be a need for more STEM graduates.

“Jamaica has a huge support for the arts and that will always continue but make no mistake about it, we cannot develop with where we are now with the output in math and science subjects. So make no excuse, STEM is where we need to increase our focus for our development to attain the possibilities that we know are real we are going to need thousands more STEM graduates and thousands more engineers,” he said.

The minister disclosed that there are currently 862 engineers registered with the Professional Engineers Registration Board (PERB).

Clarke, who made a comparison between the local output of engineers and that of developed countries, said more needs to be done to meet the country’s development needs.

“I am telling you as minister of finance, what I see coming down the pipeline in terms of the possibilities for the country and for us to seize those possibilities with the need to get to the stage where the United Kingdom is, where we are turning out 3,000 engineers a year from our tertiary institutions instead of what we have here today, we have 867 in total in all of Jamaica. Eight hundred and sixty seven will not take care of our development needs,” he said.

The finance minister said the Government has committed 1,250 full-tuition scholarships for persons to become STEM teachers at The Mico University College.

“In order for you to have the engineers at the college level you have to produce the kids who can get into the engineering programme from the high school level and produce the kids to get into the engineering programmes you are going to need to have the teachers. We are starting at the head of the river and over the next five years 1,250 teachers in addition to what would have already been produced to be coming out of our system able to teach in high schools in STEM subjects,” Clarke said.

In an effort to attract students to engineering programmes at the tertiary level, the finance minister said the Government has partnered with the University of Technology to provide 1,000 fully funded engineering scholarships over the next five years.


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