Shipyard executive says more training needed
FREEPORT-A Grand Bahama executive has called for more training of the workforce in technical fields.
Senior Vice President of Operations at the Grand Bahama Shipyard Reuben Byrd was a guest speaker at the Total Educational Centre’s opening ceremony for”Careers Through Technical Education Awareness Week”on Tuesday, and said he has been an advocate of training all his life and understands the importance of developing the workforce.
Years ago in most parts of the world, every industry had an apprenticeship program that taught the specifics of the trades to individuals in order to help them develop into qualified craftsmen, Byrd shared.
The Grand Bahama Shipyard currently operates such a program.
These programs were mostly always four years in duration and comprised of both practical work and theory taught by qualified instructors, he continued.
However, due to rising operating costs and diminishing profits, many of these programs scaled down or stopped, a move which Byrd asserts did not take into consideration the long term future of industry.
Some 17 to 20 years later, he noted, the older craftsmen began to retire and there were no fully qualified candidates to fill their slots.
“This is an era I am all too familiar with. From the mid 1980’s to the mid 1990’s the demand for qualified craftsmen was at an all time high and the availability was diminished,”he stated.
“Many companies started to see their demise at this point. Some companies were forced to close their doors while others started some sort of training program in an effort to save their business.”
According to Byrd, most of those programs were eight to 12 weeks training courses which taught the employees the basics of a particular craft, he said, and many companies still did not survive due to the rise in cost and the inability to compete with more qualified businesses.
“This created what we in the industry call the gap, being a lack of true craftsmen to fulfill the work force. As new programs emerged, the industrial sector started again to slowly gain strength,”he explained.
“However, as we all are aware, building quality craftsmen takes time and even after a four year apprenticeship there are the following mentoring years required to fully develop the necessary skill sets.”
Byrd said the importance of substantial training programs has been proven and cannot be disputed if the future of industry is to be protected.
“There is and will always be a need for qualified journeymen craftsman in all areas of industry. Even as we move into a more technology challenged world the necessity for men and women to repair the machinery and the products becomes more demanding and requires more advanced training,”he said.
“We as the leaders in the industry cannot stand by and allow what happened to our predecessors to happen again. We have become mindful of the need for proper training and apprenticeship programs to ensure the success of future generations of our business. The trainees of today are the future of tomorrow and as always you get back what you put in.”