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Manpower going tertiary

Audrey Hinchcliffe’s Manpower Group wants to start awarding first degrees by 2026.

The cleaning and maintenance company’s training arm, the Institute for Worker Education and Development, IWED, is now recognised as a higher-education institution. This is the first step in a four-year process that will see the training institute move from granting certificates and diplomas to offering tertiary level degree certification in specialised lines for small businesses and customer-service oriented businesses.

“It is so exciting to see that we’ve moved from a little in-house training unit to a full institute in seven short years,” said Manpower CEO Audrey Hinchcliffe.

IWED has been offering courses on behalf of HEART/NSTA Trust, with certification from the National Council on Technical & Vocational Education & Training at its Eureka Road headquarters. It is also an independent school under the Ministry of Education, offering sixth form-level training for City & Guilds certification.

“After years of doing that, we applied to the UCJ to start the journey into higher education. We were doing Level One training before moving up to Level Two after having gone through the assessment process. We’re now a higher education institution,” Hinchcliffe told the Financial Gleaner. The UCJ or University Council of Jamaica is the accrediting body for colleges and universities.

Director in charge of training and education at IWED, Verica Bennett Davidson, says the institute has been offering customised workplace training in sanitation and cleaning, in addition to specialised training for the BPO sector for seven years but felt it could be doing more.

“We came to the conclusion that the entry-level approach will not cut it. There is a need for critical-thinking skills and higher-order training,” Bennett Davidson said.

IWED is now moving to offer customised professional training to the certificate and diploma levels. It is also offering a short course for supervisory management in the cleaning industry.

CEOs and owners of small businesses are also being targeted for training as “there is a burning need for this among SMEs”, said the training director.

She recounts that in one of the training sessions done for staff of the courts, “the chief justice himself sat through the sessions and duly earned his certificate.”

“He was so impressed that he decided to take the learning home to help supervise his household worker,” Bennett Davidson added.

To facilitate its expanded training programme, Hinchcliffe said Manpower Group has purchased another property at Eureka Crescent for just under $30 million and that the one-storey building there is to be transformed into a three-storey, dedicated tertiary-level training centre for IWED.

The cost of the project is to be finalised.

“We can get approval to go up two more floors. The architects are working on giving us a ground floor to be our IWED headquarters with a large meeting place and a multipurpose area suitable for a library and training accommodation for the disabled. The third floor will be classrooms, and the second floor will be the demonstration rooms,” Hinchcliffe said.

“We want to focus on workforce training and development at a higher level. The liberal arts, and such, are for others. When they talk about 70 per cent of the workforce not being trained, we want to address that,” she said.

In the meantime, IWED says it has so far trained more than 500 persons across six companies in the outsourcing sector in supervisory management and other courses under partnership with the Global Services Sector Jamaica – the association that represents GSS or BPO firms. The sectoral training is backed by funding from the Inter-American Development Bank through Jampro.

IWED courses offered under the GSS training programme are delivered online while courses done in conjunction with the Ministry of Education are delivered face to face.

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