The fourth cycle of the East Port of Spain Development Company’s Education to Production Construction Skills Training Programme will see 130 people being trained in various skills which will enhance their communities. This number is an increase of 69 per cent from the number enrolled in 2022, and were chosen from 400 applicants.
The programme will be facilitated by the MIC Institute of Technology (MIC-IT) and NESC Technical Institute, and participants will be trained over seven months in carpentry, masonry, electrical installation, plumbing, welding, air conditioning and refrigeration, heavy equipment and operations, and industrial maintenance technology for appliances.
Speaking at the launch of the cycle at the Government Campus Plaza, Richmond Street, Port of Spain, on Wednesday, Housing and Urban Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said the increased intake was possible because the government recognised that personal and professional development is a major part in ensuring that TT reaches developed nation status.
“In the last budget, the allocation for East PoS was increased from $439,000 to $9 million for its social and economic programmes. This translates into opportunities for many more people to access training options free of charge. You are equally as deserving of the taxpayers’ money being expanded on this programme as any other citizen of TT.”
She said the investment was made so the participants could have the tools of a viable trade.
“We want you to learn the skills that will make you more marketable in the construction sector in the short-term, and more equipped and more confident to start your own businesses in the future. That way you will then be in a position to employ others, achieving two goals in the process – weaning yourself from relying on the government and contributing to the growth and development of your communities.”
Robinson-Regis said while some people are willing to label residents of the area as miscreants, the government sees them as citizens deserving of equal participation in the national economic space.
Three of the participants in previous cycles - Kevon Glasgow, Keston Williams, and Lerenzo Perry - had been hired as assistant instructors at MIC-IT following their graduations.
Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Adrian Leonce said each of the trainees had the opportunity to become a mentor and a change agent in their community. He said finding skilled people has been challenging.
“There are challenges where there are people who claim to be skilled contractors, and when they produce a product the end user is unable to use it, because all they see is dollars and cents. What I’m saying is, develop the knowledge and skill, and understand this is just one step. You will have the potential to encourage the youngsters to move away from other alternative lifestyles towards a lifestyle of self-sustainability, solving the problems that happen in our community, a lifestyle that can empower us and leave a legacy, that our children can look up to and be proud of.
He reminded the trainees that in many places secondary school education is not free, and they should be mindful they are getting this training for free.
EPoS board chairman Chinua Alleyne said the project was important to the board, which was fairly new. He told the trainees that when the programme seemed daunting in the next few months, they should remember that they are transforming lives and their communities.
MIC-IT acting CEO Randy Monilal said the programme signalled a new stage in the lives of the trainees. He said while it might be overwhelming at times, they should embrace the training.
“MIC-IT is thrilled to be part of this programme, which aims to fill EPoS’ philosophy of achieving economic, physical, and social regeneration through sustainable transformation in partnership with key stakeholders. Through this programme, it is our goal to build a strong technical-vocational educational training capacity and develop competent craftsmen with relevant skills for the construction sector, among other things.
“For this cohort, MIC-IT will be delivering training in construction based skills such as masonry, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, welding, as well as softer, yet equally important, life skills, entrepreneurship, and communication.”
NESC dean Indra-Ramroop-Ramkissoon said the trainees should remember they were chosen out of 400 applicants.
“Think about where you’ll be in six months and write it down. Remember it when the days aren’t so bright.”
EPoS managing director Dr Deborah Thomas-Austin said the institution’s aim in training the participants was not only to make them change agents in the community, but change them, their outlook, their employability, and the trajectories of their lives.
One parent said he appreciated the government giving his son opportunity to access this type of training without having to pay for it, as was the case for some other offerings.
Inspector Ian Charles of the Hearts and Minds unit of the Inter-Agency Task Force said he has seen previous participants embrace the training.
"The youth are looking for areas to educate themselves, to get that stigmatisation of being from EPoS out of the system. A lot of them here don't know they have these skills yet, because you don't get it from the schools, which focus more on book work. So they're getting an opportunity now and from what I've seen before, they embrace the opportunities."