Advance Program: Investing in Workforce Development through Technical Tertiary Education

By Cait-Amoi Goulbourne

October 4, 2021

Jamaica Highlights from the Past Year

Advance is a workforce development program helping to improve youth employability in Latin America and the Caribbean. The program is implemented in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala & Jamaica.  

The past year was one of perseverance, resilience, and purpose. Advance continued working with its technical tertiary partners to deliver market-relevant technical skills in agribusiness, wellness tourism and the creative industries. The pandemic created another layer of challenges among students, schools and the wider education community. With USAID’s support, students are on track to completing their associate degree programs. Some have done internships or other labour bridging activities to help them to have smoother school-to-work transitions.  

Entrepreneurship Coaching  

Advance facilitated an entrepreneurship training and coaching program for aspiring entrepreneurs. Students also participated in a pitch competition. The top three students, particularly with support from the JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation, received prizes to help them to get their businesses started.  

Tablets Donation 

Advance donated 150 tablets to the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ), one of its partner institutions, to help students to access their classes. These tablets were distributed to students whose face-to-face learning was disrupted by the pandemic.  

Learning Labs  

Advance helped  Knockalva Polytechnic College to establish its agro-processing learning lab. The lab serves as a training ground for students in the Agro-processing and Business Management Associate Degree Programme. The learning lab will also help students to strengthen the practical skills that they will need to excel in the workplace and contribute to the development of Jamaica’s agro-processing sector and wider agribusiness industry.  

Stronger Alliances among Private Sector and Tertiary Institutions

Advance strengthened partnerships between the private sector and its tertiary partner institutions to provide internship opportunities for students. Students received first-hand experience of the workplace. A few students were placed at organizations such as JP Farms and Grace Kennedy Limited. Several industry experts opened their virtual doors and offered customized presentations with practical examples of their day-to-day work.  

Online Course Content  

Advance helped The CCCJ to convert select face-to-face courses to online courses. Twenty-three courses were converted to increase access for students who couldn’t be physically in classes. This support allowed the Council to continue providing technical content to their students during the pandemic.  

 Student Employability Guide 

The program developed an employability guide for students to help prepare them for the workplace.Topics covered in the guide includes career planning, professional branding, networking, and searching and applying  for jobs. The guide is a resource for students to gain and maintain employment.  

World of Work Workshops & Webinars 

Advance hosted World of World workshops and webinars for students to help them get ready for the workplace and to be more marketable. Students were engaged in job/career readiness activities and provided an opportunity to network with industry players. The Program also converted the workshop into an e-course to make it more accessible, so more students can benefit from it in the future.  

Positive Youth Development through Social and Emotional Learning 

The Program worked with its partner institutions to train pre-service teachers to embed critical non-academic skills within any course so they can prepare youth for life’s challenges.  The program hosted its first learning forum on positive youth development through social and emotional learning and will continue to train selected pre-service teachers in this area. 

Advance will continue to engage students in work readiness activities, encourage private sector partnerships and provide support to its partner institutions, so they can continue to provide quality training to students and skilled employees to the workforce. 

In Jamaica, Advance partners with The Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica, University of Technology, Jamaica and the Vocational Training Development Institute.  

Advance is funded by USAID and implemented by FHI 360. 

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