A bit more help

A bit more help

Today’s report on a welding training centre in Statia is interesting. The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment SZW has earmarked funding for this programme spearheaded by the Labour Office, Social Domain Unit, Can Can Services and the Advice Bureau.

The first batch of 10 selected candidates will be taught welding level 1G and 2G during six months, with graduates qualifying for a course to attain the highest category 6G diploma. Considering the island’s oil terminal, relatively new drinking water distribution pipe system and solar panel energy park there is obviously demand for this skill.

The same may be said for St. Maarten, representatives of National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) told Parliament’s Committee of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS) on Wednesday. Mention was made of construction work at the airport and hospital as well as utility company GEBE and having to replace the water storage tanks that imploded during the passage of Hurricane Irma.

However, those learning to weld at the vocational school in Cay Hill must now apparently share their space with carpentry students, which is not only inconvenient but creates a potential fire risk. Establishing a proper facility would supposedly cost about a quarter million Netherlands Antillean guilders.

That might sound like a lot of money, but with so much building activity taking place and projects still pending, it seems a worthwhile investment also for the often-talked-about promoting of local participation in the labour market. After all, quality practical and job-oriented education was always sorely lacking on the Dutch side.

NIPA is there to provide it, but could use a bit more help from both government and the private sector.