In Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Holness responded to questions on the costs associated with the merger of the four agencies to create the HEART Trust/NSTA. The Prime Minister told Members of Parliament that the total cost for the merger was $313,729,853.67.
The Prime Minister also highlighted that with the merger, there was an overall increase in the senior management staff however, this does not translate to an overall increase in cost to the Government.
The Prime Minister added that the HEART Trust NSTA has integrated additional assessment centres to deliver the projects and programmes slated for 2021.
“Although face-to-face training has been suspended as a result of the pandemic, the Agency has pivoted with the integration of distance learning methodologies and the implementation of four (4) assessment centers in Kingston, Montego Bay, St Ann’s Bay, and May Pen to alleviate the assessment challenges and adhere to the social distancing protocols,” said Prime Minister Holness.
The Prime Minister added that the Trust’s projections for the resumption of face-to-face training for the coming months are dependent on the spread of the coronavirus and the continuation of the restrictions, as reflected in the Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) Orders.
Notwithstanding, Prime Minister Holness highlighted that the HEART Trust/NSTA Mobile Unit which was launched on December 16, 2020 will enable the Agency to provide greater training opportunities to those persons who reside in deep rural communities in 2021 and beyond.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Holness announced the launch of Jamaica’s first Coding Academy, a project which is a partnership between the HEART Trust NSTA and the Amber Group.
“On Thursday (January 14, 2021), the Government of Jamaica in partnership with Amber Group, will be launching the coding academy. Coding is the way of the future for mass employment for young people. We recognize that HEART must be far more responsive to the industry, and a part of that response is what we are going to be doing in coding to ensure that Jamaica can participate meaningfully in the fourth industrial revolution.”
This, the Prime Minister said, is just one of the many partnerships to come which will benefit Jamaicans.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Holness assured the Members of Parliament that the Agency does not have to draw down on its reserves, if the current 3% intake level (post-COVID-19) holds for 2021 as the indicators contained in the Trust’s draft 2021/2022 budget reflect a surplus position.
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