Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy this week praised the partnership between Bermuda Motors and the National Training Board (NTB) in securing the employment of two Bermudian apprentice mechanics.
Tyree Armstrong, 22 and Jabari Hollis, 20, have been recently employed by Bermuda Motors. Both former Berkeley Institute graduates, they started work this month after completing an 18-month course in Associate of Science in Auto Collision Repair Technology at the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) in Rhode Island. The NTB provided full financial support for the course.
The NEIT course, counts as part of Tyree and Jabari’s four-year apprenticeship with Bermuda Motors. The course covered paint and body work, structural and non-structural repairs, and electrical. During the next year they will be working towards certification by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence and qualification as Junior Mechanics.
Atinori Butterfield, who completed the same programme six years ago, will mentor the apprentices. Mr. Butterfield is Body and Paint Workshop Controller and Estimator at Bermuda Motors and is being trained for a future management position within the company.
“The Government remains committed to providing employment opportunities for Bermudians. The partnership between Bermuda Motors and the National Training Board bodes well for the placement of qualified professionals in the automotive industry,” Minister Fahy said
Kenneth Bartram, Training and Assessment Officer of the Department of Workforce Development, said Government had partnered with automotive companies two years ago to try and reverse a decline in Bermudians entering the industry.
Mr. Bartram explained: “We did a survey of people in the industry and found that the number of people retiring in 5 to 10 years or who were on work permits, was far higher than the number of apprentices coming into the industry. We’re working to make sure those interested in the profession get into the right schools, get experience and in 10 years are at the top of their game and are able to move into those positions.”
Darwin Symonds, After Sales Manager, Paint and Body Shop at Bermuda Motors, said that an informal survey he carried out in June 2012 revealed that of the 32 paint and body technicians then employed by various garages, Police and the Department of Works and Engineering, 19 were over 50 years old and approaching retirement within 10-15 years but of the 17 Bermudians employed, only 4 were apprentices or Junior Technicians.
He said the apprenticeship programme and the support of the NTB was crucial for the future of the industry. “People with these skill sets are in demand and there are a lot of opportunities in the industry for Bermudians. This programme is really important if we are to bring on young Bermudians because they can’t get this level of training on the Island.”
Both Tyree and Jabari said they were attracted to the industry because of its practical nature and job satisfaction.
“I really like working with my hands,” explained Tyree. “I like to do something that I can look at and say, ‘I did that’.”
“I like to make things look good,” said Jabari. “It feels good when you have a vehicle that’s all beat up and you make it look pretty again.”