By Carlena Knight
People desirous of learning a trade will be given an opportunity to do so through a programme launched on Saturday by a member of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP).
UPP Candidate for St John’s City South, Franz DeFrietas is the main organiser behind the Basic Solar Technician course, which seeks to equip participants with the skills and principles necessary to understand solar panel installation and electronics.
“In consultation with industry professionals, I became aware that there are very few technically capable individuals, particularly in the solar panel installation. They needed people to work in that area.
“In my community, I have a number of young men and young women, by the way, that are unemployed, that are unskilled and I thought that if we could bring together a course that would train young people, even as young as 12, to start to get the skills early that would then provide an opportunity for a better economic parity for the people of my community,” DeFreitas said.
He explained it is the goal for him and his team that those members of his community be able to equip themselves with the necessary skills that could allow them to get better jobs or the qualifications needed to go to college or start their own business.
Participants ranging from age 12-45 are presently involved in the three-month course which is being presented by notable solar panel and electronics expert Alex Spencer, with assistance from master technician Winston “Stan” Roberts.
Residents of the St John’s City South Constituency will be provided with a scholarship to attend the courses, while those outside the constituency will have to pay a small fee.
DeFreitas said the time has come for the education system to expand its programmes to include a wider variety of life-long initiatives to adjust to the modern era.
It is for those reason why a number of other trade skills will be offered to the community, he said.
“I believe the education system is too narrow. It only focuses on the academic content we traditionally know. Our industries and our world [are] changing in such a way that I believe that a lot of tech skills and trade skills are necessary for us to have a better nation and so, we will be introducing the traditional trades that we know of in Antigua and Barbuda.
“Masonry, carpentry, plumbing, electrical wiring, mechanical, autobody, all those trades will come together in St John’s City South. Not only for the residents of that community but as a central location in Antigua to be able to [equip] the residents of Antigua and Barbuda as well,” he explained.
The Basic Solar Technician course is being held at DeFreitas’ branch office on Sir Andy Roberts Street but, according to the candidate, as the courses move along, the classes will be held at other satellite locations.