The Technical Campus of the Brown’s Town Community College is providing training and certification to fill the demand for skilled persons such as welders, mechanics and drivers, given the many mega projects taking place in Jamaica and the wider region.
According to the Executive Director of the HEART Trust/NTA, Dr. Carolyn Hayle, some 5,000 drivers and operators of heavy equipment are required by the shipping industry by February 2013. She is encouraging persons to grasp the opportunity provided at the Technical Campus to gain and upgrade skills in these areas.
“With the expansion of the Panama Canal, we don’t have enough (drivers) for the shipping industry…it pays big bucks. You can earn and learn; we deliver the education in units and modules, so you can go at your own pace. The possibilities are endless and the opportunities are there,” Dr. Hayle said at the recent opening.
The training facility, located in Discovery Bay, St. Ann, is a joint venture involving the Brown’s Town Community College, Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, and the HEART Trust and was set up to provide qualified skilled personnel to meet local and international demand.
Focus is being placed on welding with other areas such as computer programming, construction and engineering to be rolled out overtime.
Dr. Hayle informed that level one of the welding programme is offered free of cost, while the cost of level two is minimal, but can be waived, if a genuine need is identified.
Principal of the College, James Walsh, stated that there is “huge” international market for welders.
He informed that a truck and transport mechanic school to train mechanics and tractor trailer drivers will also be set up in collaboration with Canadian employers, to meet needs under the Overseas Employment Programme. Already this year, some 30 mechanics and trailer drivers have taken up jobs in Canada and there is the potential to increase by 300, the number of workers in this category by the end of 2012.
President of Noranda, Pansy Johnson, in her remarks, stated that the bauxite company responded to the need, articulated by stakeholders in the parish, for the establishment of a community-based institution that would provide hands-on training in certain skills that can generate employment and income for those who are willing to take up the opportunity.
“The result that you see here is not a Noranda institution, but a joint partnership between our community, our educational institutions, and our employees. With the kind of leadership that has been demonstrated by those who have made this dream come true, we can be confident that the centre is going to have a long life and make an indelible contribution to the heart and soul of this community,” Mr. Johnson said.
She said that Noranda is confident about the sustainability and longevity of the centre and has decided to offer an apprenticeship programme for all the graduates “so that once they leave here, they can gain valuable work experience in our plant while upgrading their skills, marketability, and job resumes."
Impressed with the opportunities for personal development, Custos of St. Ann, Hon. Radcliffe Walters, commended the project stakeholders, noting that the setting up of facility “has demonstrated your awareness of the direct link between educational achievement and economic prosperity”.
To those who will be benefitting from the training, he urged that they dedicate themselves to the task. “My young friends, note, that the providers of this facility can only open the doors, you will have to enter and collect what is inside. This is a golden opportunity,” he stated.
Member of Parliament for North West St. Ann, Dr. Dayton Campbell, in his remarks, also encouraged the young people in the parish to take advantage of the training. “Do not limit yourself based on your financial resources; this is an opportunity that you must grasp with both hands. This is an opportunity for you to make something; it will benefit you, your family and your community,” he said.
Meanwhile, President of the Brown’s Town Community College Students Union, Francis Benain, pledged on behalf of the students to “live up to expectations to make the best use of the training provided at the campus”.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter