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NCU turns to breadfruit flour to provide more student jobs

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 26, 2018

NORTHERN Caribbean University (NCU) in Mandeville, Manchester, is looking to increase the range of jobs it provides for its students with the production and manufacturing of breadfruit flour that is to come on stream shortly.

Already, NCU, a Seventh-day Adventist church-owned institution, provides jobs for approximately 90 per cent of its 3,200 student population.

Dr Vincent Wright, dean, College Natural and Applied Sciences, Allied Health and Nursing, said that students are employed to the campus's deli, a wood shop, the printing press, and a cafeteria, and in other areas.

“We realise that work is very important to people who are coming from rural areas in Jamaica. As a result of that, we thought best that we should provide jobs for some of these students. We have recently acquired 1,246 acres of land in St Elizabeth, where we are going to be doing farming. As a result of that a fair amount of students will be employed on this property to do farming,” Dr Wright said.

He was speaking at this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue, St Andrew, headquarters when he made the disclosure.

“We have been doing a number of other projects on the university campus that will entail a lot of student labour. We have greenhouses, we have water harvesting, we have some other projects like value-added projects and as a result of that, we have a fair amount of our students who are going to be engaged in work,” the university dean said.

He shared that the building which facilitated the manufacturing of cereals before the university changed its name from West Indies College in 2004 will now be used to produce the breadfruit flour.

“We are going to be utilising every space of that building shortly so more students will be provided with jobs. I can state it here, quite clearly, that we are going to turn out flour — breadfruit flour. That is a project that I have been working on over the years and a number of persons have taken it and ran with it. I have promoted it on a number of occasions and you have some in the private sector that have taken it on and they are doing extremely well,” Dr Wright said.

At the same time, NCU President Dr Lincoln Edwards said that work ethic is “central” to what is done at the university, and disclosed that a business process outsourcing (BPO) unit has been set up.

“So the new administration is focused on providing jobs and additional job opportunities for our students. I think it was last week that we launched the first business process outsourcing on the campus and that will [provide jobs for] 35 students, and so our students are excited about that opportunity.We are working with another company in the United States, for early 2019, to start another BPO on the campus to provide job opportunities for our students,” Edwards said.

The principal added that a Heidelberg Speedmaster Press was also purchased and will further provide jobs for students. Students also work in a hotel associated with the school, administrative offices, departments, and cleaning areas, the principal said.

“The salary goes towards their tuition, but they are allowed to withdraw a portion of that for their personal needs. So we are trying to partner with others to build more industries on the campus so that our students can get additional opportunities,” he said.