Guyana Training Agency launched By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
March 7, 2002

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`I...implore the ( expand its mission statement to include the training of skills that are in short supply" - Sattaur Gafoor, private sector rep.

THE recently established Guyana Training Agency (GTA) has been formally launched with the primary aim of satisfying technical and vocational training needs of the private and public sectors of the country.

GTA, according to its mission statement, is to contribute to the restoration and improvement of the productive capacity of Guyana.

The Euro $1.8M project, launched Tuesday with a high-profile attendance at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, is funded by the European Union for an initial three years and executed through the Private Sector Commission (PSC).

The purpose of the GTA is to upgrade the technical and vocational skills of the Guyanese workforce, coupled with the objectives of providing for `training of trainers' to facilitate improved training in institutions and on-the-job; providing training sites with equipment and consumable material; and providing accredited examination and certification for participants.

The agency is also geared to be responsive to the needs of any sector in the economy, including manufacturing, agro-business, engineering and construction.

Private sector representative, Mr. Sattaur Gafoor said what the GTA is attempting to achieve is commendable. He, however, suggested that its mission be expanded to incorporate training technicians in those fields where they are almost non-existent.

According to Gafoor, a survey of the need for technical skills would reveal that there are shortages of agronomists and electronic technicians, just to name two.

"I therefore implore the (GTA),...whilst its efforts are more than commendable,...(to) expand its mission statement to include the training of skills that are in short supply."

Gafoor pointed out too, that one simply could not upgrade skills that are not there, adding that Guyana can only achieve economic growth through the development of its human resources.

Mr. Hydar Ally noted that as Permanent Secretary in the Education Ministry and member of the GTA Board of Directors, it was only fitting for him to welcome the establishment, and congratulate the PSC and its members who saw the need for it and worked tirelessly towards its creation.

According to him, this year promises to be very important for technical vocational education and training, with several major activities being undertaken within the next six months. This shows the launching of the GTA, which is a private sector initiative, is indeed a very commendable step, Ally added.

He said too, that the Education Ministry is working towards having the Technical and Vocational Education Training Bill finalised so that it can be tabled in Parliament shortly. Approval will pave the way for the establishment of the Council for Technical, Vocational and Educational training.

Ally said the Government is also hoping to finalise a major project for the further development of technical, vocational education and training, and in addition, a competency-based modernised programme will be implemented at the secondary schools level from September.

"It must be noted that the initiatives mentioned here, including the Guyana Training Agency, will not satisfy the aims and objectives without meaningful participation from all stakeholders," he said.

Among those making presentations at the launching ceremony yesterday were Prime Minister and Acting President, Mr. Sam Hinds; PSC Chairman, Mr. Brian James; and private sector representatives, Mr. David Yankana and Mr. Peter DeGroot.

Among those in the audience were Finance Minister, Mr. Saisnarine Kowlessar and Advisor to the President on Investment, Mr. Manniram Prashad.

The GTA members will be classified according to the size of their establishment. Membership fees for businesses will range from $10,000 to $100,000 and newly-created firms will get a 10 per cent discount. The membership fee for individuals is $5,000.

Services will be demand driven and upon request and the GTA will conduct training needs analyses in businesses to assist them in determining their weak areas. The assessment will indicate what type of skill training is needed and who should be trained.

The GTA will also design courses to satisfy identified needs, each consisting of modules (competency based standards) of the level of skill sought.

It will also arrange for the training to be conducted within an established institution (training centre) and/or on the job by competent professionals.