Senators unanimous on second chance for young electricians

Senators unanimous on second chance for young electricians

By Balford Henry
Senior Staff Reporter

Monday, November 16, 2020

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Government Senator Ransford Braham wants the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology (MSET) to ensure a “second chance” for young people to become electricians without Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) certification, under the Electricity (Electrical Work, Registration and Licensing) Regulations.

Speaking in the debate on the regulations, which were eventually approved by the unanimous support of the senators on Friday, Braham said that the provisions must bear in mind Jamaicans who fail to succeed at the primary and secondary school levels, but who become experts at certain skills.

“If you didn't do so well in school, or couldn't afford it, you would be sent to learn a trade. So carpentry, plumbing, woodwork and electrical work were among those things. When I look at the regulations, I remember this situation. It is a very useful way to allow young men, in particular, a second chance,” Senator Braham noted.

He said that his hope was that where the regulations refer to a certificate in electrical installation, it doesn't name the institution from which the certificate should be obtained.

“I am hoping that a young man or woman, who did not do well in the formal school system, and would appear to do well to become an electrician apprentice, would be able to qualify through the HEART programme, for example. So that, although they don't have CXCs and 'O' levels [General Certificate of Education ordinary level] and so on, and they really put their mind to do it…I trust that the system will not be operated so that these categories will be excluded,” he said.

“Second chances in Jamaica sometimes are not plentiful, and this is a very good opportunity for second chances for people who did not do well…I am not trying to devalue the CXC, but it is not the only way to determine competence. And I think I can be bold enough to say, a university degree is not the only way to determine competence,” he argued.

“It must mean, and it should mean, that whoever you are, whoever your connections are, you should have an opportunity to be able to get into the system,” he added.

“I trust that it will be so organised that it will continue to be a source of income for a good amount of Jamaicans, and we will not make it difficult and exclusive, and that it will continue to be a source where you can develop your skills, even if you did not start out life with the qualifications that you would normally get from the secondary system,” he stated.

The regulations were approved with the full support of both sides of the Senate. They are to guide the Act, which has been awaiting regulations since 2015. The regulations were adopted pursuant to Section 55(1) of the Electricity Act, 2015, which provides for the privatisation of electrical inspection functions previously conducted solely by the Government.

Leader of Government Business Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said that they will relieve the Government of some of the operational aspects of conducting physical inspections within the electrical works industry, while maintaining quality and standards through regulation.

She also noted that with only nine inspectors the Government had, in the meantime, been burdened with an average 35,000 annual requests for lighting approval.

The regulations were passed in the House of Representatives on October 27, piloted by current Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz.

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