One hundred retrenched sugar workers and young people from Berbice are the inaugural batch of the Industry Skills Training Enhancement Programme (IN-STEP).
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, officially launched the IN-STEP programme at the GuySuCo (Guyana Sugar Cooperation) Training Centre, Port Mourant, today.
“We know that many of you are afraid many of you are worried. We are here as a government … to help you. In a few short months, oil is going to be produced in this country. This county as the sun rises in the east is not going to be left behind. Guyana will rise from Berbice,” Minister Trotman was quoted as saying in a dispatch by government’s Department of Public Information.
Partner ministries in the programme, Ministries of Agriculture and Education, commended the successful partnership to develop the country’s human capital.
GuySuCo’s Corporate Communications Manager, Audreyanna Thomas, noted IN-STEP provides alternative skills for retrenched sugar workers.
The programme seeks to provide certified competency training in the basics of welding and fabrication, electrical and refrigeration for retrenched workers.
“This commissioning ceremony today is evident of a successful partnership … to reskill the ex-employees and other residents in the Region Six communities to give the ex-employees new skills to prepare them for alternative employment,” Thomas said.
GuySuCo has been easing the transition of communities affected by the downsizing of the sugar industry through its Sustainable Resilient Communities Programme.
Chairman of the Board of Technical Institution (BIT), Clinton Williams, noted that targeting school dropouts and other young people in the region is vital to improving the social economic conditions in the Berbice area.
“Under the IN-STEP initiative BIT will continue to review the course content and curriculum together with the TVET Council to ensure its relevance,” Williams said.
IN-STEP is being funded by the Ministry of Natural Resources at a cost of $4.5M. The programme is 120 hours of training being facilitated on Fridays and Saturdays at the GTCPM.
David Budhram who has been working in the sugar industry for the last 14 years welcomes the initiative. “I hoping that I could equip myself that I could serve back my community because I doing refrigeration,” he said.
Ashley Henry said she signed up for IN-STEP to challenge herself. “It’s mostly for males but I still decide to come and do something which is machinic motor vehicle engineer,” she said.
For 15-year-old Saif Owal, IN-STEP provides an opportunity for him to gain his certificate towards opening his own business. The school dropout said he wants to become a mechanic.
Participants who complete the IN-STEP initiative can gain entry into the New Amsterdam and Corentyne technical schools to further develop their skills and become employable.