Regional

Armadale correctional facility to become skills training centre

BY RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 15, 2014    

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ALEXANDRIA, St Ann — The facility which housed the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre will be transformed into a skills training centre.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the facility last Thursday to mark the start of the new venture for the people of Alexandria and surrounding communities.

The skills training centre, to be operated under the HEART Trust/NTA, is expected to be opened later this year. Work, which should start this week, is expected to run over a three-month period. It is expected to offer training in computer repairs, woodwork and furniture making, general construction, and AC and refrigeration serving and repairs.

The project is being completed through the partnership of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, which has already donated $4 million; as well as Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, Brown's Town Community College and the HEART Trust/NTA.

The Armadale facility was closed following a fire in 2009 which left seven girls dead and several others injured. After being abandoned for years, extensive renovations will be done at the facility for it to accommodate the skills training centre.

Member of Parliament Keith Walford, who had proposed the move, is joyful.

He said that the centre will help those who had to travel for miles to acquire skills training.

"There is no such training around; the closest is Runaway Bay and we have a lot of communities, a lot of youngsters, who require this training, so having this facility here locked up, it was easy to come up with the idea that it would be proper for a skills training centre," he explained.

Meanwhile, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell said the facility must be a tribute to the seven young girls killed in the fire at the Armadale home.

The minister said he would also be committing funds from the Universal Service Fund towards the construction of a computer room on the property and the installation of broadband technology.

Some 105 persons have already signed up to work on the facility in exchange for certification, Walford said.

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