Adrian Neely of Telios Christian Academy (l) and President of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), Dr. Robert Robertson, do an elbow bump during the graduation of the first cohort of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) core program. The 30 students now have an internationally recognized credential in General Maintenance, after 80-contact hours. Photo: Del-LaMarr Davis
It was considered an “historic day,” as the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) graduated the first cohort of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) core program.
After 80 contact hours, the participants – some of whom were high schoolers – were trained in general maintenance. They learned the fundamentals of construction site safety, construction math, construction power tools, construction hand tools, communication skills, employability skills, construction drawing and material handling, with some of them choosing rigging as an option.
All modules had to be completed with a score of 70% or above in order for students to pass the NCCER core credential.
Jump Start participant, Prince Tinker thanked the Ministry of Education for investing in his future.
“This program has led me to discover my purpose. When I first entered the program, I was lost, struggling to find myself. The facilitators instilled in me the tools I need to a confident young man. While at BTVI, through lectures and hands on experience, I gained so much information. I thank y’all for teaching, counselling and showing us a better way of living,” said Prince.
Another student, Donnie Deligence revealed that there were times when many of them wanted to give up.
“There were times when we were not the best students, but our instructors pressed on. This program has given us the ability to better ourselves and our families. We have gained knowledge that has is much needed in the job market today. The investment the Ministry of Education has made in our lives will not be in vain,” said Donnie.
Donnie said the cohort is determined to be hardworking individuals who will seek to better themselves and the country.
A beaming Kareem Johnson of the Ministry of Education’s Jump Start program, his mother after graduating in the first cohort of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) core program, facilitated by the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute. The drive-in graduation was held on the grounds of Chapel on the Hill.
Among the 30 participants at the drive-in graduation ceremony on the grounds of Chapel on the Hill, Tonique Williams-Darling Highway, were some students of Teleos Christian Academy and the Ministry of Education’s Jump Start program.
Keynote speaker and BTVI Chairman, Kevin Basden, noted that the Associated General Contractors of America found back in August 2019 that 80% of contractors were having difficulty finding qualified craft professionals, which he said proves why the credentials of the participants are key to workforce development.
“For far too long, there has been a misconception that those who go the technical and vocational route are less than those who go the college route. However, the electrician, the plumber…the mason and the carpenter are all needed by the doctor…the lawyer, the accountant. Additionally, as you become even more qualified in a technical field, you can not only be an employee but an employer,” said Mr. Basden.
Mr. Basden encouraged them to become life-long learners and pursue the next level of NCCER training.
BTVI President, Dr. Robert W. Robertson noted that the NCCER core credential is only one step in the journey and the future of work is going to be about stackable credentials.
“We have seen an incredible change in terms of the economics of the workforce situation globally and in The Bahamas, but that doesn’t mean work has stopped. There is an incredible interest in significant projects within The Bahamas in the next year. Where will the people who do those projects come from? We want to make sure they come from The Bahamas, so we have provided your sons, your daughters, the opportunity to get in at the ground floor,” said Dr. Robertson.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Education, was Deputy Director of Curriculum, Sharon Poitier; she was particularly pleased that two of the program’s modules were employability and communication.
“With employability, I am confident you would have been exposed to work ethics and that you will not only prove to yourselves, parents, but to potential employers that you have the skillset and the mindset to work diligently, and will do your best in every situation. I am also pleased you were exposed to communication. Part of that encompasses manners and respect. My grandmother used to say that manners and respect take you around the world. There is no substitute to being mannerly and respectful,” she stated.
Like Mr. Basden, Ms. Poitier too encouraged them to not just be employees, but to become employers.
BTVI’s Dean of Construction and Workforce Development, Alexander Darville worked along with Workforce Coordinator, Archilene O’Brien, to make the 80-contact hours a success. Mr. Darville spoke to the institution’s role in bridging the skills gap.
“The skills gap in our country is real. It is difficult to find skilled, trained individuals. At BTVI, we are on a mission to close that gap and use the NCCER curricula to make sure while closing that gap, we are ensuring students have certifications that are internationally recognized,” he stated.