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People 1st representatives meet ITSE colleagues in Panama

ITSE Panama: Celebrating success and charting the future

08 Jul 2024

Jane Rexworthy, Executive Director, People 1st International

Since its inception, the Instituto Técnico Superior Especializado (ITSE) in Panama has been a driving force in providing high quality education that equips students with the skills and knowledge needed for successful employment.

ITSE was built in 2017 by the Government of the Republic of Panama, through the proclamation of a law to address the country’s technical education gap. Its aim is to provide a professional education that prepares individuals for successful career paths, increasing the levels of social inclusion and educational development and economic growth.

Between 2016 and 2019 we partnered with ITSE to support the successful opening of the new state-of-the-art training facility. During the project we worked with the team to develop and implement a business plan and roadmap, plus led a team of professional experts to develop curriculum for 17 high quality, industry-led training programmes.

Fast forward five years, and this month we returned to Panama to visit the Institute. Here we share our insights on the achievements of ITSE and future aspirations across its key schools -Business, Hospitality and Culinary Arts, Digital, and Industrial.

Driving excellence

ITSE is continuously pushing for excellence through a variety of new initiatives. These efforts demonstrate a strong commitment towards bridging the gap between education and employment. From implementing innovative teaching methods to collaborating with industry, ITSE strives to develop well-rounded professionals who are fully equipped for success in their chosen careers.

  • The Business School has recently enhanced its teacher training with the support of donor funding, placing a focus on building the skills to write effective lesson plans.
  • The Hospitality and Culinary Arts School has launched new initiatives to meet the needs of a digitalised age, including programmes in Microsoft online reservations, food and beverage management, coffee mixology, and wine expertise.
  • The newly established Digital School has enrolled over 500 students in cutting-edge courses such as software, big data, cybersecurity, and AI.
  • The Industrial School is set to launch an aviation maintenance programme in 2025, as well as new programmes in industrial maintenance, electricity, and mechanical technologies.

Remarkably, more than 80% of graduates have successfully secured quality employment, demonstrating the significant impact of the programmes on offer.

Future direction

Despite the impressive progress already achieved, the team remains determined to ensure that its future is equally strong. This commitment goes hand in hand with a clear focus on maintaining high-quality curriculum, ensuring that ITSE continues to be a leading institution that produces highly skilled graduates.

  • Language, literacy and numeracy: ITSE plans to build on its English language programmes to improve communication skills in each industry. It has already established an excellent programme to provide students with practical, application-focused courses in the Digital and Industrial Schools to support literacy and numeracy.
  • Industry partnerships: The team have strong engagement and collaboration with industry, creating effective industry partnerships across all its schools to ensure graduates are job-ready with practical experience and skills that are highly valued by employers. To further strengthen this approach, the Hospitality and Culinary Arts School aims to introduce flexible schedules in collaboration with industry partners to accommodate working students, and the Digital School will expand hybrid learning models to better serve students with work commitments.
  • Entrepreneurship: ITSE also aims to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among their students. With this goal in mind, they are working towards establishing an innovation centre to serve as a hub for students to collaborate, experiment and bring their ideas into fruition. They are also incorporating entrepreneurship into the curriculum to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge required for venturing into their own business.

With such forward-thinking leadership and drive for excellence, it is no surprise that ITSE has become a beacon of excellence in Panama and serves as an inspiration for other institutions. The institution is committed to continuous improvement and ensuring that students are highly skilled and well-prepared for the modern workforce. With its focus on industry engagement, faculty development, and international collaborations, ITSE Panama is poised to lead the way in shaping the future of education and preparing future leaders for success.

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