Jamaica now offers training and global certification for maritime welders and fitters preparing them for employment as technical shipyard personnel, through a partnership between Jamaican and German-based stakeholders, including the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), German Ship Repair Jamaica Limited (GSRJ), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, the Ministry of Transport and Mining, the Heart Trust-NTA and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Jamaica, and The Bahamas.
The participants will be in training for two to three years, towards achieving class certification by DNVGL – an international accredited registrar and classification society. Approximately 25 welders and fitters are among the first group of beneficiaries of this new initiative.
Dr Fritz Pinnock, executive director, CMI, explains that “it is not just about training welders. It is about providing certification that has global currency and building a workforce that can benefit from and develop dry dock operations in Jamaica as a major component to the logistics hub initiative. That is the real significance of the programme.”
Captain Jhonny Pretell, director of marine and professional studies, CMI, adds that “the level of training in other parts of the world where technical skills such as welding are concerned is very high, especially in Europe. This programme will ensure that Jamaica produces technically skilled people at the highest level as well.”
Ulrich Kraus, CEO of GSRJ, a company that was launched last year in Jamaica to conduct ship repairs activities to a global client base, noted that this programme is a way of sustaining the company’s operations in Jamaica through human resource development, which is an ideal complement to the other development plans that the company has in store. “We currently operate in the Kingston Free zone area and we plan on launching the dockyard at Harbour Head with our first floating dock next year. We are expanding and we need to engage more persons who are well trained and certified, and this apprenticeship programme will offer us a pool of employees.”
FILL THE GAP
GSRJ, through the CMI as a training partner, is driving the provision of new skill sets for the dockyard operations, which will fill the gap that currently exists in the Jamaican workforce. The collaboration was initially facilitated through GSRJ’s parent company, Harren & Partner, who forged a partnership with CMI to provide training opportunities for cadets and absorb graduates of the marine-based programmes over a decade ago. This dockyard is presently being developed by the German-Jamaican joint venture, German Ship Repair Jamaica Limited, consisting of the German partners of the Harren and Partner Group, the Kloska Group and local partner Jamaica Dry Dock.
GSRJ will operate a 24-hour shift dockyard, powered by a sustainable energy power plant, and intends to expand to absorb approximately 200-300 employees. It is expected that operations will create approximately 1,000 additional jobs for subcontractors in the supporting industries. The apprenticeship programme will fuel this expansion, which will become a necessity based on the present scope of operations. Kraus explains that clients come from all over the world to do business in Jamaica and that the European clientele has grown tremendously because GSRJ is very customer focused and demonstrates a greater understanding about ship ownership from the perspective of Europeans. Apart from driving business, the company sees this programme as a way of retaining local talent, as many technicians migrate to North America in particular for better economic opportunities. This apprenticeship programme provides an alternative avenue of economic development not only for the individuals, but for Jamaica.
Internship in Germany
A second component of the programme is an internship opportunity for cadets to train at classification society DNVGL in Germany. This is being facilitated through the German Embassy in Kingston and sponsored by Condor and Harren & Partner. The first cadet to have been selected after review of academic and social achievements, and personal interviews, is Winston A. Chambers, a third-year cadet. Chambers is leader of the cadet corps for three consecutive years.
The successful candidate will be in Germany for the internship in July 2017, and will be involved in ship inspection and surveying from the perspective of the classification society DNVGL. At present, no classification society has a branch office in Jamaica, so this is a significant development, especially in light of the new dockyard which is going to be built in Kingston. When asked why he should be selected, he answered that he would be “excited to pass on the knowledge gained during the internship, to share with my classmates”.