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Group Chairman's Blog

Articles & Columns Published in the Jamaican Sunday Gleaner by Dr. Winston Adams

A quality public sector engendered by quality training is critical to economic growth

A quality public sector engendered by quality training is critical to economic growth

March 25, 2018

There has been much debate recently about the need for the Jamaican government to reduce the public sector wage bill, which often translates into the need to cut the size of the Jamaican public sector.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) which is the main influencer of government policy over the last two administrations has repeated the importance of bringing the public sector wage bill under nine per cent of GDP from its current level of about 10 per cent.

The last several weeks have seen the trade unions representing public sector workers (teachers, nurses, police, civil servants etc.) battling with government over wage increases ranging from two to six per cent per annum.

Are Colleges Preparing Graduates For Entrepreneurship?

Are Colleges Preparing Graduates For Entrepreneurship?

September 3, 2017

JAMAICA'S JOB market is extremely challenging for many graduates leaving universities and colleges. Gone are the days of the 1960s and '70s when students leaving the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Technology (UTech), formerly CAST, had the choice of several attractive positions in the private and public sectors.

Apart from traditional professions, such as medicine, nursing, law and teaching - for which there is a steady annual demand because of migration - many graduates of tertiary institutions struggle to find fulfilling employment. With their numbers increasing, more young college or university graduates are being encouraged to start their own businesses.

It is a fact that, with the increase in information and computer technology, most jobs of the future will not be lifelong engagements with large private or public entities. Rather, these jobs will be of shorter duration with much technology-driven and macroeconomically-driven change and require retraining, upskilling and lifelong learning.

Traditional jobs will be the subject of fierce competition and many graduates will need to create their own jobs and enterprises, or work in teams to do this.

Role Of Tertiary Education Institutions In Fighting Violent Crime In Jamaica

Role Of Tertiary Education Institutions In Fighting Violent Crime In Jamaica

July 30, 2017

Jamaica's murder rate - up by 20 per cent over last year - has many Jamaicans in despair as the atrocious bloodletting continues in our little island. The high incidence of violent crime has tested the mettle of the Government. Its latest effort to tackle the crime monster includes the Special Zones Law recently passed in Parliament. This could, indeed, be one tangible solution.

There has been a steady growth of tertiary education graduates from institutions in Jamaica over the past few decades. Notwithstanding, it is unacceptable that most of the sharpest minds from our tertiary education sector, including its leadership and graduates, are apparently unable to make an even greater contribution in devising more practical and tangible solutions to what nearly all Jamaicans admit is the number one impediment to the economic growth and sustainable development of this country.

However, it is also fair to say that, to some extent, Jamaica's tertiary education sector has been involved in the search for solutions to the problem of violent crime. For instance, there are several relevant degrees, courses and initiatives on offer at local institutions which seek to equip our people with professional approaches to addressing the serious problem of crime and violence. Some of these initiatives include:

Targeting Dreams: Higher Education And Student Loans (Pt 2)

Targeting Dreams: Higher Education And Student Loans (Pt 2)

July 23, 2017

Much of the record of failure related to student loan financing schemes is because of problems and limitations - some of which are peculiar to low-income or less industrialised countries - that seem, at least in the short run, to be intractable that is, not solvable simply with smarter policies or better execution. Other challenges may be amenable to alternative policies and/or practices. Among the most serious problems and limitations are the following:

  1. The high rates of unemployment and low-paying jobs in some countries among university graduates, making student loan repayments difficult (even with an otherwise well-conceived and well-administered loan programme).
  2. The pervasive belief that higher education is, or ought to be, a public entitlement, that is, paid for by everyone, even if only relatively few participate and benefit.
  3. The pervasive absence of trust, especially among students and potential student populations in many countries of government and of the university administrations.
  4. The low rate of savings and general scarcity of private capital. This limits the supply of student loans to whatever the Government can make available. This puts student lending in competition with alternative direct governmental outlays rather than with alternative investments.
  5. The absence of reliable and cost-effective systems for loan servicing and collecting. The design and implementation of student loan schemes can face bottlenecks along any one of the following dimensions: demand, funding and coverage, financial viability, and targeting.

Targeting Dreams: Higher Education And Student Loans (Pt 1)

Targeting Dreams: Higher Education And Student Loans (Pt 1)

July 16, 2017

The fast-growing importance of higher education across the Commonwealth and the world at this juncture can hardly be denied. All countries - developed or developing - are using it for some purpose of utmost significance, whether it is as a support for democracy or as the driving force for the economy.

Despite the universal recognition of its importance, higher education (or the more comprehensive term, tertiary education) is plagued everywhere with some financial constraint or the other. Furthermore, as indicated in a study done by Dr Subhamoy Das, a professor at the University of Calcutta in India, the number of students seeking higher education, especially in the Caribbean and wider Commonwealth, is snowballing at a galloping pace with which the budgetary allocations of the governments cannot cope. The telltale signs of this are now being manifested glaringly in some countries in different forms such as crowded institutions of higher learning, retrograding faculty-student ratios, higher tuition, and other fees.

A handy solution to this financial constraint is cost sharing. The costs of higher education are generally borne by four parties: governments (or taxpayers), parents, students, and philanthropists. At least in Jamaica, the policy is such that at least a portion of the costs of higher education is shouldered by the students and their parents instead of governments and taxpayers bearing the entire amount.

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