SB: Your CV suggests that a considerable part of your career has been spent in training in the private sector. Given the multifaceted entrepreneurial direction our oil-driven economy seems to be heading in, can you tell us about the type of training regime you would like to see implemented to support businesses in Guyana?
PB: I would like to see more efforts to develop training for women in technical and professional fields. There is a growing demand for skills and it is time for a more concerted effort to focus on training women. Second, the hospitality industry took off. Demand for needed skills in industry exceeds supply… Required training is lagging behind…
SB: How do you see your own “agenda” for training fitting into the direction of Guyana’s development at this time?
PB: Our program at GPSM Consultants Inc. caters to several sectors and industries… We have partnered with reputable training agencies in the Caribbean to offer internationally recognized certified training in HSE, technical courses in reliability and maintenance. Recently, we partnered with Barbados. Management and Productivity Institute to provide training for people working in the civil service. Many of our courses are done online where practical sessions are needed, trainers are made available to deliver them… We have established a relationship with the GTI to use their facilities. Our hospitality training program is designed to cater for all aspects of the different trades in this industry… Our trainers have done this for the tourism industry in the Caribbean and overseas working for the cruise industry.
SB: It is generally felt that over the years (and outside of the traditional government scholarship training regime) not enough has been done to build a skill base in some of the practical disciplines that relate to people who run their own business. Do you consider this observation to be generally true and how do we reverse this?
PB: I agree with that observation. There is a shortage of training designed to meet the demands of micro and small business owners. I am aware of the efforts of the Small Business Office and IPED, but there needs to be a more structured and cohesive set of programs.
SB: Do you think that our local business support organizations have a role to play in training to meet the needs of the transformation of the business/economic prospects of the country and these BSOs (PSC, GMSA, GCCI, etc.) do enough right now to respond? adequately to this particular responsibility.
PB: They have a major role to play. Training in technical and vocational skills is not just a function of the state. The private sector also has a role to play here.
SB: Given your own involvement in training through your company, where would you like to see the emphasis in terms of a relevant training regime?
PB: I would like more emphasis to be placed on technical and vocational training to meet current and future demands. The demands are in all sectors… The need is also present in the mining, construction and agricultural sectors.
SB: If you were to pinpoint the critical (overall) areas where there are training gaps, in which areas would you say we are particularly lacking?
PB: Our technical schools are not equipped with the necessary equipment to meet current requirements. We failed to get students to get internships that would give them hands-on experience. Companies must commit to having students participate in internships. I still believe that instead of building new facilities to support new industries, we should instead focus our efforts on existing technical institutes and expose qualified lecturers to appropriate training…I would also like to see the Training Council industrial Technical training in Guyana with… students in training… To do this, the agency will have to be modernized.
Peter Benny is the CEO of GPSM consultants Inc.