Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, is calling on Community Colleges to be more assertive, and to rescue the high percentage of the Jamaican workforce that has no certification. He added that many of the difficulties and challenges faced by community colleges result from inadequate literacy and numeracy among the applicants for entry into those institutions, and as such a lot of remedial work has to be done by them. “Yours is the entry point which alone can rescue that 70 per cent of the Jamaican workforce which has no certification, and therefore start and continue at a disadvantage,” the Minister said. Rev. Thwaites was addressing the opening of the 17th annual conference of the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica, at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Hotel, in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on January 9. It is being held under the theme: ‘Shaping the Future: Changing roles for Community Colleges’. The Minister argued that it is through the system of community colleges that most young people from the masses of Jamaica have the opportunity for tertiary education, and that this underscores the epic significance and responsibility that the community colleges have in the education sector. “This movement (community colleges) is no longer the cinderella of the tertiary education system,” Rev. Thwaites emphasized. The Minister said that technical and vocational competencies are no longer second rate to academic subjects, adding that as a nation, “we will never be competitive in our economy or within the global economy, unless the balance between academic competencies and technical and vocational skills is duly recognized.” He cited the network of community colleges as the main purveyor of technical and vocational skills in Jamaica. “It is for everyone in Jamaica to share the objectives and aspirations of your movement, to shape the future, even as we change to meet the exigencies of the 21st Century,” the Minister told the audience.