The Barbados Construction Gateway Training Initiative provides Barbadians with the opportunity to learn skills in many areas associated with construction including backhoe operation, brick laying, well digging, steel bending, welding and so much more. (Media Resource Department)

The Barbados Construction Gateway Training Initiative (BCGTI) is to be viewed as another step in Barbados’ journey of empowerment through education and training where relevant learning is linked to livelihoods.

Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney, emphasised this yesterday as she delivered remarks at the launch of the initiative, at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology, Wildey, St. Michael.

Outlining the aims of the project, as highlighted in the State Speech delivered on February 4, by President of Barbados, Her Excellency The Honourable Dame Sandra Mason, Minister McConney noted that with the start of a building boom with multiple public and private projects, Government would be continuing its efforts to upskill and reskill the population.

According to her, this would see the training of artisans and trades persons to ensure the availability of a new core of male and female workers who could fill various construction jobs when created.  

The Education Minister, who also described the BCGTI as “a targeted response to demand and an opportunity for people to make a difference in their own lives”, stressed its overarching aim was to train and prepare an adequate, competent and skilled workforce “to support the expected construction boom”.

The initiative which is set to train 3,000 trades persons over the next year will start in May. According to the Minister, it will offer 24 courses but not all will begin at the same time, only the more urgent ones, where demand is most immediate and the curriculum already exists.

Through partnering with the SJPI, the Barbados Vocational Training Board, the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council and the Barbados Community College (BCC), the initiative will have three components namely: training, job attachments and tools acquisition.

She acknowledged that Government could not do it alone and commended the private sector/Industry partners for agreeing to take on trainees for job attachments.

However, while noting these temporary job attachments needed to turned into permanent and meaningful work with decent pay, she said: “Our technical and vocational institutions must now see job attachments not simply as an extension of a training course but as the beginning of a career.”

It was pointed out that the job of the BCGTI would also not be complete with the graduation of the over 3,000 persons. Calling this a “vanity metric”, the Minister said the success of the programme would have to be measured in terms of “value metrics”, where emphasis would be on “how many, after graduation, have become meaningfully engaged in a job and in a career”.

The BCGTI will utilise a modular approach that will ensure graduates receive relevant certification after pursuing an eight to 12-week training programme and later through the TVET Council taking it to the level of either the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) or National Vocational Qualification (NVQ), where graduates could then work anywhere in the Caribbean.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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