50 youths join government crane-operator programme

Ministry of Youth Development and National Service Launch of the HOIST Crane Operations Programme. - Photo by Josette Nicole Deonanan
Ministry of Youth Development and National Service Launch of the HOIST Crane Operations Programme. - Photo by Josette Nicole Deonanan

THE Ministry of Youth Development and National Service (MYDNS) welcomed 50 youths into the HOIST Crane Operations Programme on May 27.

This initiative will provide specialised training for the crane industry, preparing participants for roles such as rigging and banksman, forklift operator, boom truck crane (HIAB) operator, mobile crane operator, and tower crane operator.

Upon completion participants will earn a CVQ Level III certification.

Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings outlined the programme’s structure, which includes one-week, five-month and seven-month components. Participants receive a weekly $500 stipend.

Minister in the Ministry of Works and Transport (MOWT) Rishi Sookhai lauded the programme as a "heartwarming and enlightening initiative" promising to develop the minds of the participants and capitalise on Trinidad and Tobago’s human capital.

“Even though our natural resources are dwindling, our human capital has untapped potential.”

Sookhai said there was a regional demand for crane operators which was experiencing "a significant increase particularly in the fields of infrastructural development and port expansion.

Sookhai noted St Maarten’s recent acquisition of a “state-of-the-art” crane which he said was expected to enhance cargo operations at its ports.

“You’re not just limited to the coasts of Trinidad and Tobago. You can go anywhere. The world is your oyster.”

Sookhai noted the MOWT’s difficulty in securing skilled crane operators who can keep up with changing technology.

“At the MOWT, securing skilled and licensed crane operators is a difficult task, especially since we’ve moved on from gantry cranes and upgraded to electric environmentally friendly cranes. Technology is changing and advancing and we need skilled workers to take it on.”

Sookhai emphasised the need for tenacity, respect, and humility in the field.

"Respect the equipment; it has your life in its hands, and if you respect it, it will respect you," he advised.

Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Adrian Leonce reflected on the industry's evolution.

"During my youth, very few had the opportunity to become crane operators. It was and continues to be a lucrative field. Them brothers' money was real nice,’” Leonce said.

He praised the current administration for initiatives like HOIST and encouraged participants to absorb all the knowledge offered.

"Youths need to get up and do something. By the sweat of your brow you have to eat," he urged.

Speaking with Newsday, Roland Baboolal, director of Trinidad Tower Cranes Ltd, said the company’s impetus to collaborate with the ministry came after Trinidad and Tobago companies in 2010 hired it to dismantle tower cranes at One Woodbrook Place, although it was based in Canada.

Baboolal said this “puzzled him” and he wondered why local companies were not able to dismantle the cranes themselves.

Discussing how participants will be trained, Baboolal said, “We will be introducing a state-of-the-art simulator to get students acquainted with the real thing.

"This is also the first time we will be erecting a tower crane for training purposes in the Caribbean.”

Baboolal stressed the need for skilled operators in various sectors and the company's commitment to job placement.

“We want to ensure the people coming out of this programme will be able to get jobs and placement. The baby boomers are leaving the labour force and there’s no one to replace them.

“Most people are also migrating to Guyana for work, and there needs to be a revamp to get these people in things like the oil and gas sector and the manufacturing sector – not just in the private sector, but also the public sector.”

MYDNS permanent secretary Narine Charran emphasised the importance of crane operators in today's industrial landscape.

"The world is moving at a rapid pace, and skilled crane operators are vital. From the roads we drive on to the water we drink and the telecommunications networks we enjoy, cranes play an essential role."

He urged participants to seize the opportunity for a rewarding career.

"There are many people in construction who take immense pride in being able to look at a building and say, ‘I built that about 50 years ago,’” he added.


"50 youths join government crane-operator programme"

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