Ministerial Statement by the Minister of Education and Workforce Development, The Hon. Diallo V. Rabain, JP, MP:
Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to provide this Honourable House with an update on the National Certification Programs undertaken by the Department of Workforce Development.
Mr. Speaker, Let me first give a backdrop for my Honourable colleagues. The National Certification programs for ‘designated occupations’ is a “critical component for the sustainability of the workforce”. Persons operating as a Welder, Electrician, Automotive Service Technician and Landscape Gardener are required to be ‘nationally certified’ as legislated by the National Occupational Certification, Act 2004. National Certification is directly aligned with workforce development initiatives, and is meant to create a ‘level playing field’ and build a competitive advantage for all Bermudian trade professionals. This process is instrumental to providing enhanced work opportunities for Bermudians and was designed to ensure an outcome of potential growth, increased confidence, and improved quality and efficiency of our workforce.
Mr. Speaker, It was in July 2016 in this honorable house, through a Ministerial Statement, We were informed that National Certification was a priority with the following being highlighted.
“..National Certification is directly aligned with other workforce development initiatives, and is an important approach towards empowering our citizens. This process is instrumental to providing enhanced work opportunities for Bermudians. The concept was designed to ensure an outcome of increased confidence, and improved quality and efficiency of our workforce. It is meant to National Certification is directly aligned with other workforce development initiatives, and is an important approach towards empowering our citizens. This process is instrumental to providing enhanced work opportunities for Bermudians. The concept was designed to ensure an outcome of increased confidence, and improved quality and efficiency of our workforce. It is meant to create a “level Playing Field” and build a competitive advantage for all technical professionals…”
Mr. Speaker, The statement also went on to say,
- By August 1, 2016 there would be policies in place to ensure all work permit applicants requireing Certification would be registered with DWD before a permit was issued.
- By October 2016 the Bermuda College would relaunch the Basic Horticultural Program.
- All electricians remaining uncertified would be certified by October 2016.
- The National Certification process for Automotive Service Technians would be complete by December 2016.
- The Registration and Certification process for all landscape gardener that had not registered with DWD would be complete by March 2017
Sadly Mr. Speaker, despite recognizing the importance of having Certification in place and how it could “level the playing field” for Bermudians in these trades, none of these goals were accomplished prior to July 18, 2017
Mr. Speaker, However in September 2017, the DWD was given a mandate to have Certification in Place before the end of 2017. As a result, effective December 4, 2017 the National Certification process began in earnest. All persons must be registered with the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), and prepared to participate in occupational driven education programs and assessments to gain additional skills and knowledge to become ‘nationally certified’. Bermudians have up to twelve (12) months from the effective date to be assessed and meet all of the requirements while current work permit holders have six (6) months to complete the process. Failure to fulfill the requirements could result in cancelled work permits, in the case of non-Bermudian workers. A fine up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) could also be imposed on anyone who does not comply with the legislation. The credentials received are valid for five (5) years before one has to recertify.
Mr. Speaker, It is encouraging to share this morning that as of December 4, 2017 a total of 793 persons have registered with the Department of Workforce Development. Included in this number are 38 welders, 193 electricians, 102 automotive service technicians and 460 landscape gardeners. Of the total registrations there were 350 work permit holders and 443 Bermudians. To ensure a healthy response to the registration process I previously announced that $265 application fee would be waived until December 31, 2017.
Mr. Speaker, I am excited that this initiative is well underway with Training Initatives and Certification Assessment having commenced! In fact, during the week of November 27th 2017 representatives from the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) evaluated the welding facility at the Bermuda College and accredited the lab as a CWB test center. This process needed to be fulfilled prior to the facilitation of the welding assessments for National Certification.
Mr. Speaker, The National Standard for Welders is aligned with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA 47.1) curriculum. All materials including electrodes and coupons were provided by DWD. The test allowed participants 45 minutes to complete four welds in the following positions: flat, horizontal, vertical and overhead. Thirty-eight Bermudians participated in the assessments which will be sent to Canada upon completion to be evaluated and x-rayed to determine accuracy and proficiency. The Canadian Welding Bureau will provide the results in approximately three weeks; and Welders who successfully pass all four assemblies are then issued a 4GF S class qualification that is recognized globally. All of those who receive a passing grade will be granted the title ‘nationally certified’.
Mr. Speaker, Let me further add that two (2) members of the Occupational Advisory Committee (OAC) are currently participating in the Welding Visual Inspection Training program in Troy, Michigan at the XRI Testing Facility. The program is scheduled from the 6th to the 9th December, 2017. Visual scanning, inspection, or visual examination of welds or fabricated joints is specified in most of the national and international standards. The test method is applied as a quality assurance tool. This training is essential to ensure that there are individuals available to assess the non-Bermudian worker’s proficiency against the National Standard prior to National Certification being issued and their temporary work permit becoming an unconditional permit.
In addition Mr. Speaker, looking ahead, sometime during the months of February and March 2018 , it is anticipated that a select number of qualified welders will have the opportunity to attend overseas training to acquire an Assessor Certification. This will allow Bermudians to facilitate the assessments and proctor tests associated with the National Certification program instead of relying on the resources from the CWB group. I will provide this Honourable House further information on this in due course.
Mr. Speaker, The momentum continues this month as the Electricians begin preparing to participate in their continuing education programs to satisfy the requirements for National Certification. Assessments will be held at the Bermuda College during the week of December 11th, 2017. All electricians who require re-certification must contact DWD and enroll in the Analysis of Code Changes course. This is a one day course for those who must re-certify. The course will highlight the changes in the NEC (National Electric Code). This code is updated every three years and electricians must be well-versed with changes in order to maintain their skills and knowledge of the occupation. Participants have a choice of attending on December 14th or 15th from 8am to 4pm. There will be a maximum of 25 participants in each course.
Mr. Speaker, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) course, NFPA 70 will also be offered this month at the Bermuda College. It is a three day course being held from 8am to 4pm from December 11th to 13th, 2017. This program is open to all electricians those who have not yet received certification, and those who are re-certifying. Similar to the Analysis of Code Changes course, there will be a maximum of 25 participants. Enrollment is in full effect and all are encouraged to contact DWD to reserve a space. The next offering is not until February 2018.
Mr. Speaker, DWD is working diligently with the Bermuda College to ‘revive’ the Automotive Technician and Landscape Gardener accredited programs. The automotive lab and curriculum will soon be evaluated by City and Guilds representatives. This is vital for the National Certification automotive program as the OAC have adopted this standard for assessments. In respect to the Landscape Gardener standard, the curriculum already exists and the Bermuda College is in the process of seeking a suitably qualified person to facilitate the training. This course will complement the National Certification program and provide a pathway for people to achieve the City and Guilds standard.
Mr. Speaker, A great deal of coordination is required to ensure the success of the National Certification program. However, it is evident that the launch of this process shows great potential we can look forward to future trades being added to the list of ‘designated occupations’. It is anticipated that collaborative efforts and consultation will continue with the Department of Immigration to seek policy changes that will enhance the features of the program and make it a more seamless process with a synergistic approach to ensuring that Bermudians are always afforded ‘first option’ for employment opportunities.
Mr. Speaker, The Department of Workforce Development will continue to assist in improving the quality and efficiency of Bermuda’s workforce through training and re-training. I would like to take this time to thank the Director George Outerbridge and the Training Manager, Ms. Pandora Glasford and her staff who have heeded the challenge I issued to them in September to have National Certification in place before the end fo 2017. Once again, it gives me great pleasure at this time to update this Honourable House about the progress of the National Certification programs.
Thank you Mr. Speaker