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St. George’s, Grenada: The Grenada National Training Agency, (GNTA) established its most recent Industry Lead Group for the Air conditioning and Refrigeration sector and a two day workshop was hosted for key stakeholders to review and recommend Competency Standards for Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) technicians in Grenada. This workshop was held at the GNTA Conference Room, at the Villa, St. George’s on October 15th and 21st, 2010.

The main objective of the workshop was to establish comprehensive competency based standards that can be used to train and assess technicians with the ultimate intention of providing them with accredited National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) at Levels I, II or III.

Among the participants at the workshop were, representatives from the T A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), Grenada Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Ventilating Association (GRAVA), Private Sector Enterprise and the National Ozone Unit (NOU). The workshop was facilitated by Mr. Roderick Griffith, Co-ordinator of Standards and Planning and assisted by Mr. John Telesford, Training Co-ordinator, both from the GNTA.

The National Training Agency is the umbrella agency for effecting reform in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Grenada. Its role is to co-ordinate and regulates technical and vocational education and training, promoting and facilitating a coherent system of quality TVET. The system is designated to satisfy the changing needs of industry as well as cater to the aspirations of individuals in pursuit of their career goals and opportunities.

Mr. Griffith in his presentation outlined the responsibilities of the GNTA and the direct role it plays in the implementation of training and certification in line with the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ). He also lamented on the benefits that can be derived by local RAC technicians who would endure the process of training and evaluation that will allow them to move and work freely within the region. Mr. Griffith further outlined that Component 1 of the program seeks to provide training for unemployed youth in Hospitality, Marina, Construction and Agriculture sectors, through the establishment of a training scheme. The project has commenced with training for the Hospitality sector in year one and will be expanded to other sectors in years two and three, based on demand in the respective sectors. Although Refrigeration and Air-conditioning was not included in Component 1, Mr. Griffith indicated that due to overwhelming request from the private sector for training and certification of RAC technicians, the GNTA responded with this workshop as a first step towards the establishment of the NVQ for Grenada.

Representing the NOU was Project Officer, Mr. Leslie Smith. Mr. Smith on behalf of the NOU complemented the GNTA on this initiative to assist technicians to upgrade their skills and to allow them the opportunity to be certified at a professional level that will allow them to achieve a competitive advantage for employment at the Caribbean region level.

The next step following this workshop is the presentation of these recommended standards to the Grenada Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (GCTVET), to be formally adopted as National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Standards for Grenada. This will be followed by identification and training of local assessors. These local assessors will then assess and evaluate technicians and award qualifications based on competency levels. Grenada is seeking to raise the qualification standards to meet the qualification standards already established in countries like Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. This initiative is part of the THE OECS (GRENADA) SKILLS FOR INCLUSIVE GROWTH PROJECT .

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The ten (10) students at the TAMCC who were the recipients of the NOU Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Scholarship for the two year program at the college along with other classmates and lecturer Mr. Henry Frederick visited the Notional Ozone Unit.

The visit was part of the monitoring exercise of the Scholarship Committee to constantly evaluate the scholarship program to ensure that it meets the intended objectives. The exercise included each student giving an account of their progress at the college to date, the positives of their experiences and areas where improvement is needed.

Project Officer in the NOU, Mr. Leslie Smith, addressed the scholarships recipients and reminded them of the expectations of the NO, the need for them to optimize the opportunity to develop their own human capitol and to make positive changes for themselves to enable them to secure their future livelihoods. Students were also handed out membership registration forms to sign up as student members of the Grenada Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Ventilating Association (GRAVA).

The students were also presented with public awareness material on the Montreal Protocol and the projects and activities currently undertaken by the NOU. Each student pledged to give their support to all of the projects and activities of the NOU and to participate wherever possible in the initiatives of the NOU.

This exercise will continue in 2011 when a further evaluation will be made with particular focus on the academic achievements of the students after the completion of their first semester.