Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, has heaped accolades on the Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL) and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI) for signing a memorandum of understanding that would see the future rollout of a cadre of students for the renewable energy sector.
Speaking during the official launch of the BNOCL/SJPI Scholarship Fund at Woodbourne, St. Philip recently, Mr. Symmonds said: “for too long, we hear the language from the corporate citizens but we do not necessarily see the backing by way of financial assistance.
“In this particular venture, there are 11 scholarships that would help us in some fundamental areas in building out the human capacity that we need in order to take us on this transformational journey in the renewable energy sector,” he added.
The Minister pointed out that there must be an ongoing educational platform for young people to see areas of renewable energy as it relates to vehicles, installation, repairs, maintenance and production of photovoltaics.
He said these skills were lacking across the region and credited the SJPI for demonstrating leadership to fill this void.
Chairman of the BNOCL, Alex McDonald, said the entity now regarded itself as an energy company that fully embraced its role as a solar, wind, biogas, wave energy, ethanol and storage enterprise, while also exploiting and selling its resources in gas and oil both on shore and off shore to prospective consumers.
He reasoned that the move away from fossil fuels dependency, signalled the country’s intention to realise its goals as a major renewable energy player by 2030.
Therefore, Mr. McDonald is of the view that empowering the youth to play a part in the renewable energy transformation through education, was one way to ensure that all Barbadians benefitted.
“I am proud to be here at this time when the company has broadened its footprints from these fields into the renewable energy space. These scholarships also underline our deeply felt corporate social responsibility aims that embrace fully our vision of being a great employer and a great Barbadian corporate neighbour, and a sterling example of what we can all do to help in these unusual times,” Mr. McDonald emphasised.
Meanwhile, Principal of the SJPI, Ian Drakes, said the scholarship added to the “excitement” at the institution since it had been practising disruptive technologies with the students as it related to using renewable technology.
“In partnering with the BNOCL, with this corporate sponsorship for our learners, these are some difficult times under COVID-19 and our students need whatever support we can give them as adults. At the SJPI, we endeavour to say to them after the wonderful certificate, what is next? And this scholarship is part of what is next to motivate our students because it has a lot of exciting bits to it.”
Mr. Drakes encouraged the SJPI’s students to apply for the scholarship, which would be an investment towards them becoming “globally competitive, budding entrepreneurs and prospective meaningful global citizens”.
During the ceremony, the gathering was introduced to the three scholarship ambassadors who are past students of the SJPI, and who are currently employed at the BNOCL. They are Kevin Harding, a welder; Derick Bishop, a pipe fitter; and Lisa Skinner, a renewable energy technician.