FREEPORT, BAHAMAS — Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard on Friday said that vocational professions are rapidly becoming the primary jobs generating revenue that exceeds traditional occupations.
Speaking at the launch of a high school apprenticeship programme on Saturday, at New Life Worship Center, Pintard encouraged a group of participants on Grand Bahama to “find their passion” and allow that passion to pay their bills, thereby positively change lives.
The apprenticeship programme was started by Dominick Roach and New Life Worship Center, and has been designed to teach students of grades seven through 12 about various vocations, including culinary arts, auto mechanics, plumbing, computer technology, electrical engineering and carpentry.
Classes will begin in two weeks on Saturdays, with some 20 students facilitated by professionals in various fields who have volunteered their time to the programme.
Pintard told the high-schoolers that such apprenticeship programmes are about self-empowerment.
He said Bahamians must learn to own the rock on which they stand, but pointed out that such ownership will only come about through the work of those who possess the skill sets.
The minister admitted that his generation and the one before him did not seize some key opportunities for skill development needed in The Bahamas. He said now is the time to prepare the next generation to take advantage of those opportunities to take the country to another level.
“My future, in large measure, depends on you young people and on the next generation,” Pintard said.
“So, we are asking you who will be taking part in this programme to show up, listen and learn and stand firm.”
East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest, who also spoke at the launch, pointed out that back in the ‘70s, vocational education was a key part of the educational system.
However, he noted, somewhere along the way it was determined that everything was more about academics and so the talents of many were neglected or pushed aside because focus was taken off vocational training.
“That was to our disadvantage,” Turnquest said. “I believe we are where we are as a result of the abandonment of those programmes.
“So, for New Life to reintroduce those programmes back to the community means that they are moving in the right direction.
“I want to thank the instructors who have committed to this programme because it’s a major sacrifice. So, I congratulate you for that.”