The Trinidad & Tobago Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI) yesterday launched its Tertiary Education Export Steering Committee, during its Education Export Stakeholders Workshop at the Normandie Hotel, Port-of-Spain.
The Tertiary Education Export committee, which comprises representatives from both public and private tertiary institutions, was established to develop the export capacity of the Education Sector and brand Trinidad & Tobago as a destination for higher education.
This initiative stemmed from a National Draft Export Strategy, which was spearheaded by TTCSI and funded by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Arising out of the study and extensive consultations, four sub-sectors were identified, namely Medical Tourism, Professional, and Yachting and Educational services, as having high short to medium term export potential.
Speaking at the conference, TTCSI’s Chief Executive Officer Nirad Tewarie said, “ Of the four sub-sectors educational services emerged as having the most potential in the short to medium term, particularly as it relates to English Language Learning, given T&T’s proximity to Latin America.”
He said while it was recognized that there is significant room for improvement in the Education system locally, the report underlines the relative strength of our tertiary level institutions and opportunities they can capitalize on.
The report also posits that T&T could benefit from strategically marketing its educational services to foreign students, Tewarie noted.
Using the Draft Strategy as the premise for his argument, Tewarie said, “T&T could earn between US $5,000 to US$$15,000 per student. The potential and capacity lie in the areas of higher education, English Language training, technical and vocational education. After three years of strategic activity, each category could attract additional 2, 500 students per year.
However taking into consideration tuition fees, food, entertainment and personal services, the estimated annual economic contribution of these additional students is US$62.5 million, thus increasing the total exports of commercial services by seven percent.”
Often understated, the importance of the services sector is tremendous, having contributed 51 % of GDP and 86 % of employment in 2012.
“Therefore, the Services is a major economic driver to T&T and has a major role in the Government’s economic diversification efforts.”
Tewarie said despite the Sector’s local importance, it plays a marginal role in the generation of foreign exchange, which Services accounts for only seven percent of export earnings in 2010.
However, he said this is ideal opportunity for T&T to increase its services export earnings.
Markets identified in the Draft Strategy include the African Continent- Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria and Cameron and English language training- Brazil, China and Costa Rica and Technical and Vocational Education- mainly the region.
Tertiary Education and Skills Training Minister Fazal Karim, who delivered the feature address, gave his commitment to working collaboratively with TTCSI on this initiative.
Karim said one of his Ministry officials would serve on the Steering Committee.
He applauded TTCSI for taking this initiative, as it’s one of the steps in the process of branding T&T as the education capital.
Karim said the Ministry is also working on several initiatives that would assist in this regard namely, the NESC Drilling Academy, which was launched in November last year and already has 150 students.
He said, “I have also asked the NESC with the University of Trinidad & Tobago to start looking to launch before the end of the year a Gas Academy.”
Karim said he is also hoping to launch Aviation Institute before the end of 2014.
He advised educators present that education and training in his view must not be supplied driven, but demand driven.
Also speaking at the Conference was Lance Dowrich, Training Director at Kenson School of Production Technology, who recommended that the following solutions could assist in building the capacity of the education sector:
- An integrated information network on higher education in Trinidad and Tobago
- Government research and data website of regulatory frameworks for postsecondary education sectors of all major emerging economies
- Establishment of an Higher Education desk in each Trinidad and Tobago Embassies/High Commissions in foreign jurisdictions
- Government oversight and regulation for providers & recipients
- Dr Robin Maraj-Executive Director -School of Business & Computer Science
- Susan Langdon-managing Director- Langdon’s language Institute
- Franci Bertrand- Consultant-Langdon’s Language Institute
- Cheryle Dubay-Tewarie- University of the West Indies
- Florence Louis-Edouard- Senior Manager International Office & Grant Funding- The University of Trinidad & Tobago
- Lance Dowrich-Training Director-Kenson School Production Technology
- Idress Omardeen- Managing Director-Omardeen School of Accounting
- Natalie-Anne de Silva- Development officer-TTCSI