Barbadians are in line to benefit from tremendous job opportunities as a result of the rapid expansion of the renewable energy industry.
That assessment has come from Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer, who said the introduction of a training course in photovoltaic installations at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) was a step in the right direction.
“This competency-based approach to training, assessment and certification will provide opportunities for Barbadian workers who possess the requisite technical and vocational skills to work in the Caribbean region in the first instance,” she said at the official launch of the programme yesterday evening.
Pointing to a number of private and public sector efforts to expand the use of solar energy, Byer said all those activities were generating jobs.
“I believe, therefore, that we in Barbados are moving in the right direction, especially with the course we are launching here today. This programme can create jobs, reduce unemployment, reduce the spending of foreign exchange, improve our innovation capacity, and even create exports [while] attracting foreign exchange, making us more competitive and less energy dependent,” she said.
Head of Distance and Continuing Education at the SJPP George Reneé told Barbados TODAY that since the application period for the 15-week programme opened about a week ago, there has been tremendous response with 32 people applying for the 16 available spots.
Classes are expected to begin in February with courses in photovoltaic installation, maintenance and repair. Other renewable energy related courses will be introduced over time.
The course is being introduced through funding from the Canadian government under the Caribbean Education for Employment programme (C-EFE), in partnership with Sault College in Ontario, Canada.
High Commissioner of Canada to Barbados Richard Hanley lauded the SJPP for introducing the programme, saying the learning institution was being proactive, given the emergence of renewable energy as “a new priority” for the region.
Also congratulating the SJPP for introducing the new programme were representatives of the Ministry of Education, president of Sault College Ron Common, and representatives of the private sector, including the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) and Ralph Bizzy Williams of Williams Industries Limited.