Ministry launches study into education needs

POSTED: 02/1/16 7:27 PM

 

Jacqueline Louis and Silveria Jacobs - HHSt. Maarten News – The ministry of education has hired consultancy company I. M. Brace to conduct a study of labor market and community needs. This study will form the basis for the 2017 study financing priority list. The study is a 3-month project and Minister Silveria Jacobs expects a final report in April, she said at a press conference yesterday morning.

From a practical point of view, the study will look no further than the next five years, I.M. Brace-director Jacqueline Louis said. The study financing the ministry will grant in 2017 should deliver graduates by 2022.

Louis said that she expects to complete 200 questionnaires as the basis for her study. “We will look at employment trends and also go into graduation classes in the schools.” Furthermore, I.M. Brace will approach human resources managers at local companies. “Who are they hiring and whom would the like to hire? These are the things we want to find out.”

According to Louis, her comprehensive report will produce a science-based priority list for study financing.

The study includes focus groups for students and businesses, where Imbrace expects to gather the proper feedback. There will also be individual and stakeholder interviews.

Minister Jacobs said that study financing will be granted mainly for studies that are on this list, though she said that exceptions remain possible.

The minister’s initiative was awarded to I.M. Brace though a public bidding process, but Minister Jacobs claimed not to know from the top of her head how much the study will cost and I.M. Brace-director Louis declined to reveal the number.

Minister Jacobs said that the study is inspired by the need to increase the return on investment on study financing and by the desire to reduce demand for foreign labor and to combat youth unemployment. The idea is to enable students to “pursue academic careers that are conducive to the growth and the demands of St. Maarten’s current and emerging labor markets.”

The I.M. Brace study will translate its finding into a priority listing of study programs, educational qualifications, professions and jobs, this list will then serve as a guideline for granting study financing.

Minister Jacobs said that she is looking at the study financing system in Barbados, where recipients of study financing – parents and students – have to sign a loan contract. This entails that, after completing their studies, students have to come back to Barbados to work for at least a year in their field on the island or for a period that equals the duration of their studies – whichever is longer. In case of non-compliance the student or the parents will have to repay the full amount of the loan to the state.

St. Maarten does not have such conditions attached to study financing, at least not yet. Minister Jacobs said that at this moment she does not know exactly how many students return to the island after completing their studies abroad with the help of study financing from the government.

Though the I.M. Brace consultancy was introduced yesterday as a local company, it turns out that according to her Facebook-page, its director Jacqueline Louis lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and that I.M. Brace is located in San Antonio in Texas. Louis is a graduate of Milton Peters College.

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