LTI graduates seeking self-employment

… following decline in bauxite production

EVERY year, the Linden Technical Institute (LTI) graduates over 150 students. This year, 164 graduated. Only a handful of these are employed at the bauxite company in Linden, which is a significant change to what obtained in previous years when almost all of the students were guaranteed employment at the company.

In fact, the school initially served as an institution to provide the theoretical aspect of vocational skills needed in the industry, after which the students learnt the practical aspect at the company and then they automatically became employees.

Today, the narrative has changed. In 1958, the first intake at the DEMBA Training Centre (which it was previously called) was a small batch of 12 students. Those students all sought employment at DEMBA.

Presently, Bosai Minerals Group Guyana has over 600 employees and there is an active apprenticeship programme which sees a small batch of students from the LTI being enrolled and if successful, become employed at the company. The rest, however, seek employment at other expatriate companies in the interior locations or become another statistic in Linden’s high unemployment rate.

Many students are finding innovative ways of self-employment and have testified that while their initial goal was to be employed in the bauxite industry, they do not regret not being called after an interview since being their own boss is way better.

One of these is Rawle Hinds. He completed his courses in Internal Combustion Engine and Motor Vehicle Works in 2012. He was placed at a mechanic and body-workshop as an apprentice but was eventually laid off. Deciding not to sit on his hands and become another statistic, Hinds decided to use the training he received from the LTI to commence his own mechanic operation in his yard.

This move attracted clients that he worked for before at his former place of employment, as well as new ones. He worked taxi with his car to supplement his income but said things are better now at the mechanic shop. He is hoping in the new year to establish a more permanent setting and have a registered business since it is presently in his yard at Lovers Lane, Amelia’s Ward. He has no regrets attending the LTI and is advising other youths, after completing high school, to do the same despite the employment situation in Linden being dismal.

He related that it was constant playing of video games that made him develop a love for cars and engines and because he knew what he wanted from the get-go, he made the best use of his training at the LTI. “You just have to know what you want to do and I would advise youths to attend the institution if they want to learn a trade because the theory is very important.

The theory helped me a lot in my career, especially the exams, because when you actually come to do the work, it becomes easier,” he related.
The young man believes that the LTI gives youths a chance to become something meaningful and more so, be their own boss, as he is.

Another former student of the LTI is Steve Marks who completed welding and fabrication at the LTI and was also able to start up his own business with the training he received. He said that his skill is the only means of providing for his family and after completing about 8 months of an apprenticeship programme, he decided it was time to go on his own.

“I decided that I want to go on my own, I decided that I can do this on my own, so I went on with a little saving that I had and invested in my own welding machine and I started many projects because of the love I have for the work,” he related. Marks’ clientele soon grew and everyone was hiring him to fabricate portable shops, grills, centre-table designs etc.

While he too was hoping to be employed at the bauxite company initially, he does not regret attending the LTI and learning a trade and is advising youths in Linden to put aside the negative and do the same as they too can become self- employed.

“It was a great step for me and I would advise any young person in Linden to go to LTI and pursue a skill, as it is one of the best gifts one could get. Moreso, there are more companies and so coming to Guyana that need skills in the oil and gas industry and I would advise them to do something that you enjoy doing, choose a trade that you love because if you love it, you will take pride in what you do.”

Last week at the LTI’s graduation, guest speaker Pastor Selwyn Sills encouraged the graduates to also seek self-employment as this will assist in lowering Linden’s high unemployment rate. To be successful in doing so, however, he urged them to be more than vocationally skilled.

The graduates were urged to seek out cognitive skills which include basic literacy and numeracy skills, socio-emotional skills which will enable them to develop interpersonal relationships in the workplace, technical skills which will make them marketable in the technical fields of the oil and gas industry, communication skills and most importantly financial skills which will enable them to stay and grow in the marketplace, thus keeping ahead of their competitors.

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