LEFT: Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd congratulates Lanique Brice, a 2018 BTVI graduate, who is the lead operator at DTEC Plant Services.
RIGHT: Santana Dean receives the award for being the most outstanding graduate in BTVI’s Electrical Installation programme for 2018.
Two young women are breaking barriers in the vocational arena, having both secured important degrees and positions in the traditionally male-dominated construction industry.
Lanique Brice and Santana Dean, 2018 graduates of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), are employees of DTEC Plant Services. As a DCO Energy subsidiary, the company is responsible for managing the maintenance and operations of the chilled water plant and emergency backup generator that provides cooling of air conditioning systems for the entire Baha Mar property.
In 2014, Lanique attended a seminar that DTEC held on BTVI's campus. Now, just four years later, she holds the position of lead operator at DTEC.
Not only has Lanique completed an Associate of Applied Science degree in Construction Technology and a certificate in Electrical Instillation at BTVI, she is back at the institution pursuing a third programme - Heating Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) - which she is expected to complete in the Fall of this year. Lanique is a strong believer in the education BTVI provides and appreciates that it fits her learning style.
"I've noticed that I'm a hands-on learner and BTVI allows me to use that ability to my advantage. Even though I get theory in the process, I love the fact that I get to take things apart and put them back together," said Lanique.
Lanique has been employed with DTEC Plant Services for the past three years. Though there are challenges, she loves her job and the fact that it allows her to wear many hats. Some days she is an HVAC technician, on others a chemist, a plumber, an electrician, a mechanical engineer, a Diesel mechanic or a project manager - most of which are taught at BTVI. She hopes to one day become the vice president of operations.
DTEC has been so impressed with the quality of students produced by BTVI, that they often seek BTVI graduates for employment. The company recently hired 15 interns from BTVI immediately after the completion of their internship at DTEC.
DTEC Vice President Sandy Smith said the company learned that experience and exposure to the industry were lacking and to change that they wanted to provide additional exposure to students pursuing careers in the industry.
"Through BTVI's job fair and the internship programme, here we are with 15 interns that demonstrated proficiency in subject knowledge, communication skills, propensity to learn and enthusiasm to apply what they have learned at BTVI," said Mr Smith.
One of those interns was Electrical Installation graduate - now DTEC maintenance operator - Santana Dean.
Santana has been employed with DTEC for the past nine months and enjoys every moment of it. She loves that she gets to learn something new every day on the job and is thankful for the instructors that taught her firm methods to adapt to any work environment.
Santana was awarded for being the most outstanding graduate in the Electrical Installation programme for 2018.
Meanwhile, BTVI Dean of Student Affairs, Racquel Bethel believes that the hiring of 15 interns shows the strong confidence that industry has in the BTVI product.
"At BTVI, we train our students for direct entry into the workplace. Today's employers are looking for candidates that are job ready. For this reason, we find that the majority of employers seek out the BTVI student because they know that that student would have received practical 'real world' experience and skill rather than mere textbook knowledge and limited exposure to the real world," said Ms Bethel.
BTVI President Dr Robert W Robertson noted that participation by women with technical and vocational skills is increasing globally. In many cases this increased participation in the labour force helps bridge the skills gap and builds a stronger national economy.