Launch of EPOS Construction Skills Training Programme
The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, MP
Minister of Housing and Urban Development
East Port of Spain Development Company Ltd. (EPOS)
Orientation & Launch of the Education to Production
Construction Skills Training Programme (Cycle 4)
Government Campus Plaza Auditorium,
Port of Spain
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
The Honourable Adrian Leonce, Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
Frances Seignoret, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
Shanmatee Singh Ng Sang, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
Chinua Alleyne, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the East Port of Spain Development Company Limited (EPOS) and other members of the Board
Deborah Thomas-Austin, Managing Director, East Port of Spain Development Company
Professor Emeritus Clément Imbert, Chairman, MIC Institute of Technology
Randy Monilal, Ag. Chief Executive Officer, MIC Institute of Technology
Inspector Charles – Trinidad and Tobago Police Service
Facilitators and tutors from NESC Technical Institute and the MIC Institute of Technology
Candidates of the Education to Production Construction Skills Training Programme
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It was just over a year ago, in April 2022 when, as one of my first official assignments as Minister of Housing and Urban Development, I attended the orientation of the third cohort of this programme. To be honest with you I was intrigued by the concept and its potential then, and I remain so today. Though I was unable to attend the graduation ceremony in December, my colleague, Minister Leonce told me that it was a tremendous success.
It therefore gives me immense pleasure to be here this morning to launch the Fourth Cycle of the East Port of Spain Development Company Limited’s Education to Production – Construction Skills Training Programme.
Congratulations are in order to all of you as a movement forward. I am certain you appreciate how competitive this programme has become over time, with hundreds of applicants vying for the limited number of places available. For us at this level of the Government, this is an extremely encouraging sign and it indicates in a very tangible way, that increasing numbers of young people are recognizing the value that this and other similar programmes can bring to their lives.
I understand that, for this year, over four hundred applications were received and it, therefore, means that those of you gathered here today represent the top 30 percent, and therefore you could give yourself a round of applause.
Ladies and gentlemen, trainees, this increased intake is possible because your Government, led by the Keith Rowley administration recognizes that personal and professional development is as much a part of crime fighting as increased policing. It is with this in mind that in the last national budget, the allocation for East Port of Spain Development Company was increased from approximately four hundred and thirty-nine thousand dollars ($439,000) to nine million ($9m) dollars for its Social and Economic Programmes.
This translates into many more opportunities for more persons to access training options, free of charge. I want to give each person here today the assurance that you are equally deserving of the taxpayers’ money that is being expended on this programme, as any other citizen of this beloved Republic.
This investment in you, in East Port of Spain, is the Government’s commitment to developing our greatest asset – our citizens. Why invest in you, you may ask? Our answer is so that the tools of a viable trade can be within your reach. We want you, the trainees, to learn the skills that will make you more marketable in the construction sector in the short term, and certainly more equipped and more confident to eventually start your own businesses in the future. In that way, you will then be in a position to employ others, achieving two (2) goals in the process, weaning yourself from reliance on the Government, and contributing to the growth and development of your communities. And I would like to indicate that one or two of you may be employed at the MIC Institute of Technology.
This investment in you, in East Port of Spain, is indicative of this Government’s resolve to give life to Theme 1 of our National Development Strategy – or Vision 2030: Putting People First, Nurturing Our Greatest Asset. Ladies and gentlemen, one of this Government’s priorities for Trinidad and Tobago is the development of a modern, relevant and accessible education and training system, beyond the formal primary and secondary curriculum.
This was one of the recommendations articulated in the Roadmap for Trinidad and Tobago: Transforming to a New Economy and a New Society which charts the course for TT to recover from the COVID 19 pandemic, and one which this administration, under the stewardship of the Honourable Prime Minister, has embraced wholeheartedly.
It is for this reason that you will also see the Minister of Youth Development and National Service, the Honourable Foster Cummings, rolling out programme after programme, to train and retrain our young citizens. This PNM-led administration recognises the critical role that education, training and certification play in facilitating the development of our people, in reducing unemployment and under-employment and in creating a foundation for the establishment of sustainable businesses. In so doing, such initiatives are key to bringing about real change and sustainability in the lives of our young people, and within their families and their communities.
We envisage that this investment in training and education will bring economic and social benefits to you. Whilst the government continues to upgrade and revitalize East Port of Spain, utilizing a whole-of-government approach, we at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, and particular the East Port of Spain Development Company Limited are providing skills training programmes like this one, in collaboration with our valued partners.
The Programme, which will be conducted over a seven-month period, is being facilitated by, as you know, the MIC Institute of Technology and the NESC Technical Institute. You will receive hands-on training in the following construction disciplines:
Heavy Equipment Operations
I am also pleased to announce that we have added two disciplines this year, namely:
Industrial Maintenance Technology for Appliances; and Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
Every training course opportunity is therefore a direct investment in your future and in the future of Trinidad and Tobago. As the local economy continues to open up, there will be need for more certified workers in the construction sector. Already, there is much work to be done. Good, reliable, capable plumbers, electricians, welders and carpenters are always in demand. I urge you to take advantage of this chance to learn as much as you can, then utilise the learnings for your benefit, for the benefit of your families and your community. There is no limit to where you can go and what you can do next.
As Minister of Housing and Urban Development, I am highly motivated also because I know that once you have successfully completed your training, many of you will be able to find employment with small and medium contractors – and also with the large contractors.
I can say, without fear of contradiction, that no government has done more to utilise SMCs than this government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley. At our agencies, the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), the Land Settlement Agency (LSA), and of course, at EPOS, small and medium contractors provide valuable services; and we would like them to develop into sustainable entities that can hire persons such as yourselves.
As I applaud you for reaching this stage, I also urge you to listen, to take full advantage of the training opportunities provided by your government, through the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and through the East Port of Spain Development Company Limited (EPOS). They are free of charge to you, yet they can bring you financial rewards and indeed a sustainable livelihood.
Today I want to appeal to all the youth of East Port of Spain directly, and especially to those who have made decisions in their lives and engaged in behaviours that have resulted in harm to others.
While others are more than willing to give you instruments to hold or transport for them, or use on their behalf, this Government is willing to give you the training and equipment to make your lives better. And I really congratulate you.
Whilst others are more than willing to label you young people of East Port of Spain and Maloney as miscreants, this Government sees you as citizens, deserving of an equal place in the national economic space.
Whilst others will seek to fill you with hate for yourself and hate for others, this Government is seeking to fill you instead with confidence and self-reliance, that allows you to believe in yourself and believe in potential for greatness and in your potential to be citizens deserving of an equal place in the national economic space. As our Prime Minister says as he quotes our National Anthem, “With boundless faith in our destiny”. And that’s why we do what we do at the EPOS. I wish to thank the Managing Director and Chairman.
While others are willing to encourage people in illegal activities that could give you money quickly and cost you your life, this Government is willing to invest in you and in so doing ensure that you have a sustainable future.
While others would have you engage in activities that do not bring you any real benefit, or increase your rank amongst others, this Government is investing in you so that your rank would increase in your own eyes, of your family, of your children, your spouses and partners.
So today, you have made an excellent choice, and the first step to changing your fortune and your future. We will do our part to provide similar opportunities for meaningful engagement and employment. The EPOS is the only company in Trinidad and Tobago under the ambit of the Government that was established for a specific geographical area and community to develop. EPOS is special to all of us in this Government.
I wish to thank the Chairman, the Board, the Managing Director and the entire team at the East Port of Spain Development Company Limited, for their hard work and dedication, and for ensuring that initiatives like these continue to achieve their objectives.
Also, I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Chairman and staff of the MIC Institute of Technology, the President and staff of the National Energy Skills Centre Technical Institute and all the tutors and stakeholders who have partnered with the East Port of Spain Development Company Limited to make these training courses technically robust and enriching.
Thank you also to everyone who helped to make today’s event possible. May God continue to richly bless you, the participants, your families, the residents of east Port of Spain and our nation.
I thank you.