Build more prisons or invest in a technical vocational school? – Magnetic mounts

#TurksandCaicos, October 26, 2021What could be more rewarding for a small developing country like the Turks and Caicos Islands than creating additional educational opportunities for its citizens?

In my opinion, it’s the latter of the two, but it’s up to you to think about it.

What is troubling is that at the rate of incarceration, our prison system in the Turks and Caicos Islands may soon be at capacity.

Given that this is a real possibility, what are some of the proactive measures currently being taken to help find employment after release and/or participate in life skills education and training?

Many of our young men may have no interest in attending college or university, but have learned other skills over the years. So what other opportunities do we have for this segment of the population in terms of continuing education or business?

Look around the country, you will find that most of our workforce revolves around the service industry and trade. Many of these workers have untapped skills that only need to be cultivated in their area of ​​interest or expertise.

With this in mind, providing vocational training will allow students and young adults to gain the necessary practical experience by refocusing on their chosen field of study or career path. This is something they might never have been able to achieve otherwise through traditional classroom learning in academia.

In the PNP 2021 manifesto under Education, Labor and Employment, it clearly states their commitment to the following:

“To create learning opportunities for students who meet different interests, strengths, and learning needs, while providing the diverse skills the country needs.”

From now on, I believe that the government should take other measures to subsidize apprenticeships for our young people, so this becomes more than platitudes.

Let’s give credit where credit is due, the previous administration was well on its way when a proposal was made to start a Vocational Technical School. Unfortunately, the current pandemic may have hampered these efforts.

Nevertheless, the idea was brilliant, and this current administration should continue to embark on this initiative and ensure that it materializes.

This initiative should go ahead, even if it means using the leverage effect of our borrowing capacity with a BBB+ credit rating while we are able to do so. I am convinced that the return on investment could be priceless.

Often, countries imitate each other with strategies to solve or improve different situations, but mass incarceration should not be one of them.

Yes, indeed, adequate facilities are needed to house and secure those who commit heinous crimes.

Nevertheless, if we have learned anything from a developed country like the United States in particular, which has the highest incarceration rate per capita, we cannot stop or incarcerate our way to crime reduction.

On the contrary, it should be a motivation to galvanize prison reform and re-examine certain issues to help reduce the rate of recidivism in prison.

We must be very careful with the strategies we emulate without doing our own extensive studies to determine the societal impact or long-term benefits of an initiative.

Given the population of Providenciales, this would be the ideal location for such a school.

However, the existing infrastructure in Grand Turk, which is currently used as a community college, could also suffice.

With the separate workshops already in place, plus some much-needed renovations, this location would ease the transition for perhaps two or three training classes.

It would be in the interest of our country as well as of large companies to support such an initiative.

Concrete example: before the pandemic, each year, a foreign company was hired to train and certify our boat operators on mainly international navigation standards.

Depending on location and if it is recertification or recertification, the cost can vary from $360 to $650 per person, plus travel and hotel accommodations .

With TCI having some of the best and brightest boat captains, could this be a custom program or a certification offered at a trade school?

This particular program should include, but not be limited to, local regulatory best practices and navigational charts for local waters to help sailors better understand the skills they are learning.

It could also be a joint effort between the school, DECR and maritime departments with qualified personnel to help facilitate such training.

Other courses of interest should include hospitality, marine engineering, carpentry, air conditioning technicians, etc. Specifically, areas where it would give students the opportunity to do an apprenticeship on the islands.

Not only will we have a higher level of skilled workers and tradesmen, but it will help alleviate the need for such reliance on foreign labor, in addition to providing a source of recruitment readily available.

In short, in my opinion, education should always trump building more prisons. As concerned citizens, we have a choice to make, remain silent or raise our voice. This is what helps to push the government to act or not to act.

Ed Forbes,

Concerned citizen of Grand Turk

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