Technical institutions urged to rethink their roles, functionality

Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton, has called on technical institutions to rethink their roles and functionality to support government’s effort to create a skilled workforce.

This call comes after reviewing annual reports of the institutions, which the minister said shows their unpreparedness to fill the skill gap needed in the oil and gas industry.

He explained that in 2021, one of the country’s most prominent technical institutions only trained eight welders and fabricators expending some $4.1 million, while over $20 million was expended to train 15 heavy-duty equipment operators (HDEO).

The minister said that the institution’s training output is quite startling for government, since it hopes to ensure citizens take advantage of the job opportunities emerging from the oil and gas industry.

“So, in my view, technical institutions will need to rethink their roles and functionality in today’s society or is it that we are still in the same place the colonial masters left us, or are we innovating to deal with the skill gap that we have because the data I saw does not suggest that to me,” Minister Hamilton noted.

Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton, M.P

The situation, according to the minister, will be dealt with holistically as it cannot continue. He urged relevant stakeholders to partner with government to aid its effort aimed at the betterment of its people.

This is also in keeping with government’s manifesto promise to create 50,000 jobs.

Since assuming office in August 2020, the PPP/C Administration reshaped the labour ministry and by extension, the Board of Industrial (BIT) to better serve its people. This included broadening BIT’s reach to increase the number of persons trained, as well as the programmes offered to accommodate the needs of the labour market.

BIT, in 2021, trained over 3,000 people in the areas of small engine repairs, shade house farming, refrigeration and air conditioner repairs, introduction to photovoltaic systems solar installation, maintenance and repairs, electrical installation and computer repairs among others.

It hopes to train 4, 000 young people for 2022. In this year’s national budget, $420.5 million was earmarked to equip 1,000 people with the necessary skills to be employed in the oil and gas industry.  This will see the certification of welders, stevedores, heavy-duty vehicle operators, and others.