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Construction courses to double intake, principal says

by Shamar Blunt
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The second phase of the Construction Gateway Training Initiative is to be launched this month, the principal of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI), Ian Drakes, has said.

Drakes told reporters on Monday that ministers have approved phase two of the project, which was first launched in 2022 to upskill the population, train artisans and ensure new male and female workers are available for various construction industry positions.
“We are coming back to the public, and what we will be doing is offering almost all of those 20-plus training courses,” Drakes said. “We are looking to launch it this month and start the training in early July; what that means is that we are going to be ramping up in terms of ads, in terms of creating that public awareness in terms of meeting the demands of the construction industry.”

Close to 2 000 people enrolled in the initial phase. “We are looking to double that; we will extend the programme beyond 12 weeks, and we have determined as educators that we need at least 16 weeks for most of those courses to give the industry more quality workers,” he explained.

The SJPI principal suggested it was an exciting time to join the booming construction industry due to high demand for a trained workforce. “I’m excited because the construction industry is saying to us, can you please start looking at some of those people who were trained in Construction Gateway, because we have supply demand projects, some timelines, that we need to meet.”
He cited the prime minister’s warning of “a crisis if the Barbadian citizens don’t come to do the labour-intensive work”, potentially requiring workers “from as far as any part of Africa”. Guyana has already taken this approach, Drakes noted.
The principal also welcomed the new Shipping (Domestic Vessels) Bill for boosting seafaring skill training, establishing a framework for accrediting boat technician and master programmes at a proposed Maritime and Seafaring Academy.
The SJPI principal said this move along with other marine bills expected to come, should pave the way for not only more jobs in the maritime trade but more jobs for women more specifically.
“We have also been working in collaboration with … WIMAP – Women In Maritime Operations – so we are looking to target females as well. I have put a proposal where I said give me 16 females, let us train them in seafaring. It is not cheap, technical vocational training has never been cheap; maritime is even more expensive, however, the opportunities are so great that all of us know that most seamen in this country who did it years ago never had a mortgage in their life. They bought everything [in] cash.”

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