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BCCEC News in April 2024: "Chamber lauds Apprenticeship Bill, opportunities it will create for skills training

Published by: Youri Kemp, The Nassau Guardian - April 4th, 2024

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation’s (BCCEC) labor division head is looking forward to the Apprenticeship Bill and the opportunities it will create for skills training.

Peter Goudie told Guardian Business the debate on the Apprenticeship Bill 2024 is a long time coming, because the old Apprenticeship Act was never acted upon. “We never got an actual Apprenticeship Bill when it was first brought to Parliament.”

Goudie added: “It was never a real bill with policies and plans and all the professional stuff you need to make it work. So effectively, there was an Apprenticeship Bill, but nothing ever happened with it.”

Goudie continued: “We’ve been working on this apprenticeship program off and on forever. We did a huge amount of work at one point, setting up all the sector skills and all the skills we needed for each industry and then unfortunately, it had to be stopped.

“It was just circumstances. It’s not that nobody wanted it, it was just circumstances. Today, both sides of the political divide spoke highly of the bill, which bodes well for it being a long-term success. Hopefully we can get it to the Senate and get it passed into law. Then we can really rev up the engine.”

He continued, “It’s one thing to pass a bill, but it’s another thing to do something with it. And there was a big step towards setting up an apprenticeship bill about seven years ago, and that was being funded by the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank). But then that was shelved because of Hurricane Dorian, COVID-19, and the recession that followed that,” Goudie said.

“Everything fell by the wayside because of all the funding was needed to get us through the emergencies. So, everything ground to a halt. And then it was revived by the National tripartite Council as part of our Decent Work Country Program. Together with the ILO (International Labor Organization) and ourselves, we resurrected everything, we got the government to agree to fund it and then we went ahead and got a new bill that was current and met all the ILO’s standards.”

Goudie further added: “We wanted to make the Apprenticeship Program world-class, not just something we dreamt up. What’s so special about it is we are able to take hundreds of people a year and teach them skills, both soft skills and real skills and getting them certified, which is the biggest thing. We’re going to get them certified.”

The goal is to steer young people into taking training seriously and having certifications that can bolster their resumes, as opposed to saying they worked with a mentor for two years without having anything to show for it. “We want you to be able to go to school and pass all of the tests at the same time,” Goudie said.

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