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GB Shipyard and Government Establish Apprenticeship-to-Employment Template
By Robyn Adderley
Mar 11, 2016 - 6:09:42 AM

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ADDRESSING THE STAFF - Following the signing of the agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and Grand Bahama Shipyard, March 10, 2016 Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, addressed staff and management on the important of the new training programme. Also seen in the photo seated at right are: Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald; Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe; and Minister of Transport and Aviation, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn)

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - The collaboration between the Government of The Bahamas and Grand Bahama Shipyard will be used as a template for other joint ventures to create employment for qualified Bahamians, said the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, during the agreement signing ceremony at Grand Bahama Shipyard on Thursday, March 10.

Prime Minister Christie, along with Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe; Minister of Transport and Aviation, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin; Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald; Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; and Executive Director of the National Training Agency, Agatha Marcelle, were all a part of the ceremony. Representing Grand Bahama Shipyard were Steve Jervis, CEO and Linda Turnquest, CFO.

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TOURING THE FACILITY - Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, centre, along with (l-r) Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe; Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald; Minister of Transport and Aviation, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin; and Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville on Thursday toured the Grand Bahama Shipyard while in Grand Bahama to sign an agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and Grand Bahama Shipyard. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn)

The Prime Minister thanked Mr. Jervis and his team for implementing an apprenticeship-to-employment programme that will expand and serve as a national model for such joint ventures around the country that will multiply opportunity for young people to move into careers.

He said that when he participated in the graduation ceremony of the shipyard, he was impressed with what he heard about 12 apprentices who had matured over a four-year programme, namely the subjects they had taken and the skilled mastered: "It was important for me then to observe that when one looked at the system of apprenticeship, and one looked at a country like Germany where they have institutionalised training by apprenticeship, that the shipyard was onto something special."

While addressing the graduation ceremony, the Prime Minister noted spontaneously that he would like to match the shipyard: since they were assisting 12 persons annually, he would like for them to do 24, and the government would contribute to the training.

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SIGNING THE AGREEMENT - Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie came to Grand Bahama on Thursday, March 10, 2016 for the signing of an agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and Grand Bahama Shipyard. Shown from left are: Executive Director of the National Training Agency, Agatha Marcelle; Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald; Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; CEO, Grand Bahama Shipyard, Steve Jervis; and CFO, Grand Bahama Shipyard, Linda Turnquest. Shown from left standing: Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie; Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe; and Minister of Transport and Aviation, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn)

He said he was pleased when Dr. Darville reported that Mr. Jervis was prepared to give more Bahamians the opportunity to train and become empowered by having a career.

"I want to be able to say here that it has our full support. It is going to require significant funding, both from the government and the shipyard. The government is well aware that in doing it that they are creating for young Grand Bahamians a career opportunity. I think that is so important."

The Prime Minister added that what is going on at the Shipyard is a template for other industries in Grand Bahama, and that the model of joint participation can lead to unfolding of opportunities – inspiration -- for young Bahamians.

He added that discussions are currently underway in Bimini and Abaco where the same sort of training can be held, and will create opportunities that are enduring, lasting and foundational for the economy of The Bahamas.

"Today is really the beginning. For the shipyard, you set the pace. It's a pace that will be followed by other industries and other segments of our economy and it augurs well for the future of Grand Bahama."

In his remarks, Minister Michael Darville noted that on many occasions, he has addressed the government's commitment to collaborate with industry partners in Grand Bahama to reduce the number of foreign nationals employed in the industrial sector, and to ensure that available positions are filled by qualified Bahamians.

"It was with the fulfilment of this commitment in mind that over the past few years, my ministry has been in negotiation with executives from the industrial sector to determine how best this could be accomplished."

Minister Darville added that since his appointment, he and Mr. Jervis have worked together and have decided upon an employment strategy for this year, and beyond.

"I am elated that what was once a dream, today has become reality, and no longer will the Bahamian people be on the outside of the industrial sector looking in. Indeed, change has come to Grand Bahama as the Government of The Bahamas in conjunction with the Grand Bahama Shipyard executives are today launching a historic, multi-targeted Training Programme at the Grand Bahama Shipyard Limited."

Describing the programme as the first of its kind, Minister Darville went on to say that over the next four years, more than 600 Bahamians will be recruited, trained and certified in an effort to replace expatriates who are currently employed at the shipyard, making the company a Bahamian majority one.

He said, "This administration committed to double our investment in Education. Today we see that investment in education is not restricted to our primary, high school and college students, through the Department of Education, but also entails partnering with the private sector to provide opportunities for skills training, which will lead to the further advancement of our young people."

When giving a few remarks, Mr. Jervis noted, "Grand Bahama Shipyard has been in discussion with the Government of The Bahamas for several months and we believe that this agreement provides the framework necessary to take the company forward over the next 10 years.

Training of 200 semi-skilled tradesmen in rigging, scaffolding, painting and blasting will begin in April.

He said, "The programme will be supplemented by increasing our intake of apprentices from 12 to 40 young Bahamian men and women on an annual basis, commencing this September. After four years’ training, and upon successful completion of this programme, our apprentices will be offered positions within the skilled trades such as engine mechanics, welders, pipe fitters and electricians.

Within four years, we expect to have some 160 apprentices under training, which will be carried out in partnership with The Bahamas Technical & Vocational Institute. Additionally, a number of apprentices will be enrolled at the College of The Bahamas, and eventually transferred into our technical and commercial departments."

Mr. Jervis closed by saying, "We believe that this agreement, in conjunction with the Government of The Bahamas, demonstrates the significance of public-private partnerships in creating sustainable employment opportunities and economic benefits for the island of Grand Bahama, and by extension The Bahamas."

Following the signing of the Agreement, the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, other government officials and guests were taken on a tour of the facility, including seeing work being done on the Carnival Splendor.

Prime Minister Christie and Mr. Jervis then shared with the staff what has been discussed, and that the Grand Bahama Shipyard is competing with shipyards worldwide. The Prime Minister said that the Grand Bahama Shipyard will become the best shipyard in the world.


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