Mechanics train for Red Seal certification
The first batch of skilled automotive workers for 2010 left the island in mid-January to take up employment opportunities in Canada through a work-study programme offered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS).
The group of 13 auto-service technicians will be participants in the programme at the Red River College in Manitoba, Canada, over a period of eight months.
The on-the-job training will facilitate Red Seal certification (Canada's highest trade credential) which will allow them to live and work in Canada.
According to ministry representative, public relations manager Ann-Marie Dobson, there is an increasing demand for skilled workers in Canada in the automotive and transportation sectors.
She states, "As often as these opportunities unfold, the ministry will respond and dispatch workers."
Skilled mechanics are in demand in Canada. Cost for the training programmes range between CDN$5,500 and CDN$6,000 for the auto-service technician and heavy-duty mechanic courses.
The courses are contracted ones between the colleges in Canada and the ministry. Applicants will need to pass the initial exams set by the college to become eligible and demonstrate the ability to pay for the course. There is need for a minimum of 15-16 persons to make the training viable to fill market needs.
Automotive service technicians inspect, maintain, and repair automobiles and light trucks that run on gasolene, electricity, or alternative fuels, such as ethanol.
They perform basic care maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, diagnose more complex problems, plan and execute vehicle repairs and provide full servicing of vehicles.
The selected trainees had previous experience in this field in Jamaica.
Another group of 14 heavy-duty mechanics were set to leave on Saturday, January 23, for training at the College of North Atlantic in Newfoundland.
According to Dobson, communications consultant with the MLSS, the work-study programme is not a new component to the Overseas Work Programme.
"The skilled work-study programme has been offered for the last three years, subject to the ministry's ability to send persons at required time and applicants' ability to pay for the cost of training."
"Usually the ministry attempts to recruit more than the required numbers and in case some persons drop out," Dobson notes.
Courses in Canada last for eight months and involve two months in the classroom (theory), four months, work experience (learn and earn) and the final two months in classroom (theory). The trainee is then set examinations for Red Seal certification.
On completion of the eight-month programme, qualified trainees are eligible for a work permit for an additional eight months. However, they cannot stay permanently in Canada and have to return home at the end of any employment in this additional eight months.
However, trainees can apply for Canadian residency through their employers.
Pearnel Charles, minister of labour and social security, asked the workers to demonstrate professionalism on the job so that the programme could be expanded to accommodate others and open up opportunities for unemployed and underemployed Jamaicans.
The ministry is currently recruiting another batch of culinary workers (chefs) to begin another course in May, following the successful training of the first batch of 18 workers at the Red River College in Manitoba. These workers had departed in July 2009.
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