…as LTI commissions health & safety training laboratoryThe first batch of 151 students attached to the Linden Technical Institute (LTI) on Friday graduated from the “Retool Safety Awareness Training Programme”, as the institution also commissioned its first multi-purpose Health and Safety Training Laboratory in its compound.Students and officials at the graduation held at the Lichas Hall, LindenThe pilot programme, aimed at training and equipping students with technical knowledge on health and safety practices in the workplace, is a collaborative effort between Guyana Goldfields Inc and its subsidiary, Aurora Gold Mines Inc (AGM); Cuso International; Global Affairs Canada; the Canadian High Commission of Guyana; the Education Ministry; and the Council for Technical, Vocational and Educational Training (CVET).Over the course of the first year, 57 business and 94 engineering students were trained using an occupational safety and health module developed in British Columbia, Canada. There was also for lecturers a programme aimed at assisting them to teach students about health and safety.Speaking at the commissioning, and later at the graduation ceremony held at the Lichas Hall in Linden, Cuso Health and Safety Curriculum Programme Advisor Trainer and International Volunteer Marshall Denh-off said the initiative came as a result of a need for improved awareness in health and safety education among tradesman in the community, known for its mining skill-set. Denhoff, who worked along with the students, further explained that the programmet aims at preparing them for the workplace.“There’s a lot of hazards in the workplace, and the whole purpose of us being here today is to make sure that these young adults, when they go to work, they come back in as good condition or better condition than they went to work…We know about 20 percent of injuries and fatalities to young workers occur in the very first month of the job…We know young workers are at the greatest risk of being seriously injured in their first 6 months on a job… and young males face a 48 percent higher risk of injury than the overall working population…we have to try and change that culture…”, he noted.Denhoff said the programme is expected to be rolled out at all technical institutes across Guyana. Materials used in the training module, he noted, will be put together to be presented to other training institutions.Denhoff pointed out that there may also be a course for the general public. The certificate, he noted, can be recognised if included in a resume when applying for a job in the oil and gas sector.Reflecting on the training facility at LTI, Denhoff said he is excited about the future of the institution. He noted that it is well equipped, and will be a centre of excellence for health and safety training in Guyana. LTI Principal, Shurla Brotherson, said it is another milestone for the institute, which is now celebrating 60 years as an institution which provides quality skills training. She has thanked the partners of the initiative.“Three years ago, the institution was approached by Guyana Goldfields Inc about the quality of students we were providing to the labour market. Although skilled in those various areas, there was lack of the ability to demonstrate safe working practices. It was as a result of this that this revigorating training opportunity… ‘Retool Guyana,’ was championed…The programme focused on increasing the participation of youths, young men and women, including disabled and indigenous persons…“We can assure you that with the Occupational Safety and Health training that they have received, their performance in the various areas of specification would be evident. This is a great accomplishment for the Linden Technical Institute…,” she said.Brotherson added that the programme also saw upgrading of the institution’s curriculum, with Cuso and Guyana Goldfields providing technical support.Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chatterjee, in her remarks, congratulated the students and noted that the Government of Canada is proud to be associated with the programme.“Because, for Canada, youth development is a priority. Canada understands the importance of engaging youth not only on issues that affect them directly, but on all issues of national and global importance… Young people represent a generation of true global citizens…the trainees here today are role models for others out there,” she stated as she encouraged students to maximise the opportunity in an effort to develop themselves and the country.Assistant Chief Education Officer (Technica) of the Education Ministry, Patrick Chinedu, in his address, extended gratitude to the companies, noting that the laboratory will be used to train safety officers for the school system and other agencies. This, he said, is as part of the Ministry’s policy to replicate and industrialise programmes.He added it is expected that the Ministry would provide training for 2 staff members of LTI at the degree level, and other training opportunities will be extended throughout Guyana.AGM Public Relations Officer Leon Roberts said the initiative is a very important undertaking for the company. He stressed that safety is its main priority. He noted that it is also a behavioural change exercise for students aimed at having them change their mindsets as it relates to safety.Graduating student Sa-Yoor Headly noted that the training received over the past year has equipped students to be better skilled in their areas of specialisation. “This training will not only help us as individuals, but will also benefit our community and country as a whole”, he said.