Categorized | National News

Nat’l Training Agency Bill Debated

Labour Minister Shane Gibson said the National Training Agency comes at an opportune time and allows employers to become engaged in the development of the country’s human resources by partnering with the agency.

Yesterday, Parliamentarians took a bill to establish the National Training Agency to the House of Assembly.

The bill, which was moved by Minister Gibson, seeks to establish a competency based training and job placement system that is flexible and responsive to the actual requirements of the workplace through a network of suitable training institutions, organisations and programmes to supply qualified and skilled labour for the country.

“The agency’s training system is designed to develop and improve employable skills and competencies, transform undesirable attitudes and behaviours toward work, reduce functional and numerical illiteracy encourage and increase civic pride, lower the high levels of unemployment especially among youth and young adults and positively influence the reduction of crime,” he said.

According to the minister, the National Training Agency will increase the capacity of individuals to participate in the workforce, promoting identifying and developing industry standards of occupations and training programmes, providing a national certification framework and increase the number of persons pursuing technical and vocational education and training and the quality of training among other things.

“Timing is important so the NTA could not have come at a more fitting in the economic growth and development of The Bahamas. Recently, we’ve heard and read about the concerns from various sectors of our economy regarding the perceived challenges that employers’ will face in the near future because it is believed they will be unable to find Bahamians who are educated enough and skilled enough to fill jobs even service jobs that will come on stream beginning in Bimini next month July in Grand Bahama at the end of 2013 and in New Providence at the end of 2014.”

The Department of Statistics reported recently that unemployment in the age group of 15 to 24 years is at 29.4 per cent.

But Minister Gibson said there is no need to panic as there will be no employment crisis.

“We have thousands of young adults who have completed formal schooling and even though all may not have achieved notable academic standing, there are many of them who can and will be prepared by the National Training Agency for the workforce,” he said.

“Indeed after the launch of the pilot programmes commencing the third week of July 2013, this agency is expected to graduate approximately 3,000 to 4,000 trainees annually when fully established.”

But Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner is not impressed.

She said the government is wasting money because the former Ingraham administration introduced the Apprenticeship Act.

“If one would come to this place and familiarise yourself with the laws that exist today, you would realise that this National Training Agency is nothing more than a duplication of what already exists. And the fact of the matter is if you look at the BTVI bill of 2010 says this bill makes provision for the function of the institute, which includes technical, educational vocational training for students in core areas relevant to the Bahamian economy,” Mrs. Butler-Turner said.

“Why are as Bahamians reinventing the wheel? We are not opposing for opposing sake because we want Bahamians to be equipped. We want our Bahamians to be engaged. We want our Bahamians to be trained for the 21st century and for the jobs that will arise in the Bahamian economy.

“When we talk about this agency we are creating another level of bureaucracy that is unnecessary in this environment when we’re talking about cutting back on the recurrent expenditure of government because of the challenges in creating a higher deficit, when we could in fact incorporate players and all what we have in these two pieces of legislation, which currently exists. What we are doing is duplicitous. They are creating another arm to do what we have already been doing. And so it makes absolutely no sense. The government is expending money on something that already exists. ”

But Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald sought to correct Mrs. Butler-Turner.

“What is going on now is a National Training institute, which can offer hundreds and hundreds of opportunities for Bahamians. It is a multi-faceted approach, a multi-agency approach and is led to a great part by the Ministry of Labour,” he said.

“BTVI’s function is different.”

The National Training Agency will be opened on July 15th at a space on the corner of Gladstone Road and additional space will be created at the Department of Labour’s Employment Services Centre located on Robinson Road.

The government will also open the agency on Grand Bahama on the National Insurance Board complex and officials are looking for classroom space in government buildings on Abaco and Exuma.

Kendea Smith

Written by Kendea Smith

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