By DANA SMITH
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government is anticipating that more than 2,000 young Bahamians will be trained by the National Training Agency between now and January, according to State Minister for National Security Keith Bell.
Speaking on the importance of finding jobs for young Bahamians and the need for skilled workers, Mr Bell said the agency – which was officially launched by the prime minister last month – will “transform” the country’s training and work environment.
He was debating the “revolutionary” National Training Agency Bill in the Senate, where he noted the NTA will add more programmes to its curriculum in January – including domestic services, landscape maintenance, residential and commercial buildings, and allied healthcare services.
“These skills programmes will be instructed by certified industry providers and all skills training will be certified by City and Guilds.
“Additionally, discussions are being held with the president of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute to work a process and terms of referral to BTVI,” Mr Bell said.
“Beginning in January, 2014, it is anticipated that the number of trainees will range between 2,000 and 2,500. The NTA will begin with entry levels one and two, and persons at level three and above will be required to pay a fee.
“I should point out that levels one and two will comprise of trainees who are semi-skilled while level three and four will be skilled, and levels five to seven will be supervisory management levels.
“The NTA will also establish a Vocational Institute for Professionals and a Convention Centre.”
Unlike previous programmes, the minister said, participants will receive nationally and internationally-recognised awards and certificates upon conclusion of the NTA.
“This is a fundamental change in the training options available to Bahamians,” he said.
“This is not an election ploy, no partisan scheme here; this is a transformative piece of legislation that will improve the lives of thousands of Bahamians who will directly benefit from this legislation.”
Mr Bell also addressed comparisons between the prior administration’s job readiness programme and the current government’s NTA scheme.
“The objectives of this Bill in some respects mirror the intended objectives of the programme initiated by the former administration but that is where the similarities end,” he said.
“It must be said that the job readiness programme was perceived by many to be an election ploy and many, many felt victimised when their applications were denied only to later discover that a disproportionate – and I am being generous in my summary of their conduct and running of the programme – number of the jobs went to FNM supporters. However, we are not here to dwell on the past, but on the future.”