Senator the Honourable Fazal Karim, Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training (MTEST) paid homage to many former Caroni workers at the formal opening ceremony of the National Energy Skills Centre (NESC) Woodford Lodge Technology Campus on Friday May 23, 2014. During his feature address to the assembled stakeholders, Minister Karim singled out the former workers who he had invited to attend and made reference to the fact that previously Woodford Lodge was the Transport and Engineering Department of Caroni 1975 Ltd and employed approximately 250 people. Since the facility will be used to train and develop students and working professionals in the automotive and heavy equipment maintenance industries under NESC, an agency of MTEST, the location has harkened back to its roots but with a modern spin on the instruction.
During his address, Minister Karim announced, “This facility is home grown but from today will be world known.” He expounded on the positive impact that it will have on an industry that has a dearth of skilled workers. The minister was pleased that modern technology would be an important part of the campus which features automotive labs as well as classrooms. He observed that learning should not be confined within the walls of the facility as he believed video conferencing should be used so instructors could teach classes from other countries. NESC programmes are fast becoming sought after outside of this country as well, so the building has accommodations which can house up to 16 visiting students or instructors if necessary.
The campus was developed through a partnership with TRACMAC Engineering and the Trinidad and Tobago Automotive Dealers Association. The 12, 960 sq ft facility includes four classrooms, two automotive labs, a meeting room and an automotive workshop. There is also a 16,620sq ft TRACMAC CAT Training Centre which has two buildings with four classrooms and a heavy equipment workshop.
The minister also announced that in four to six weeks construction would begin in constructing centres on the compound for other MTEST agencies. The Metal Industries Company Ltd (MIC) and the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP), both agencies of MTEST, will also find homes on the compound, and it will become an integrated campus.
As he outlined the benefits of the new campus, Minister Karim stressed its importance in providing young people with marketable skills which would help them to find employment. “This is the opportunity for you to get a good job,” he explained. “This is the opportunity for you to get a better job. This is an opportunity for to get the best job, to move from low skill and low wage – or sometimes no skill and no wage – to high skill and high wage.”
Find out more about the National Energy Skills Centre here