President of the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE) Joel Trotman said the industry is unhappy with the quality of engineering graduates from the University of Guyana and called on government to enhance the capacity of the institution so that the new engineers would have the required skills and quality.
He was delivering remarks at a dinner marking the 45th anniversary of the association held at the Georgetown Club on Saturday night.
“Also of major concern to GAPE is the University of Guyana. We have been privileged to be invited to sit and discuss the way forward for the university. A paper was presented and what came out of the discussions was that the industry was unhappy with what was being offered,” he said.
“This university in our opinion requires more resources and more attention. We recognise a lot of the concerns raised by the industry cannot be addressed by undergraduate [studies] so I would like to encourage young engineers to pursue post-graduate studies because a lot of the specialist training and education required to move this country forward are not acquired by undergraduate training,” he said.
“As such I would like to throw the challenge out to [President Donald Ramotar] and to the Prime Minister, that the enabling environment must be created for our young engineers to be further trained in post-graduate work, especially in design,” he said. The President delivered the feature address on which he called on engineers to join in the government’s development thrust. He encouraged members of GAPE to be a part of any discussions regarding engineering legislation soon to come to the National Assembly.
Ramotar also spoke of the cuts to the national budget and the infrastructure works to be affected as a result. He said that not only do the cuts stymie the development of the country but also frustrate the engineers who would have been part of projects.
Trotman said that the pace of construction development in Guyana could be expressed in no other terms but exponential. “With that kind of development and with that kind of speed, the responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the engineers and the policy[makers],” said Trotman.
He said that the level of infrastructure that Guyana is experiencing will require significant investment from both the public and private sectors. “We have seen a shift in the way we do things in that we seem to be seeing an emergence of bilateral agreements in developing and emerging countries like China and India. This is also coupled with our regular trading partners like Europe and the Americas,” he said. “Because of this we are having a mix of standards and as such the role of an engineer is becoming more and more important as we are expected to be the watchdog and guardians of the public interest,” he said.
“I must add that we are accustomed [to] doing business a certain way…we have done it the same throughout the ’50, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, and ’90s. This is a new era… the 21st century and as such it requires a paradigm shift. What I am alluding to is the importance of understanding that because of the complex nature of the trading arrangements between Guyana, Caricom and Cariforum, the pressure is on us to come up to scratch, meaning that we are being measured not against local standards but against regional and international standards. As such as have to ensure that whatever we do, we measure up to those expectations,” Trotman said. He said that engineers must ensure that they position themselves in order to benefit from these markets.
He went on to observe that the lack of regulation of the profession is of concern to the association. He said that such regulation is one of the requirements of trade agreements. He said that with the help of Caricom, an engineering bill is being drafted which is aimed at regulating the sector.
Engineers and architects have a perception, he said, that they are overlooked in terms of spearheading large infrastructure projects.
The GAPE President also referred to a need for a professional centre for the engineering fraternity with a view to coordinating and creating a location which would be able to hold meetings, seminars and coordinate the business of the association.
Trotman said that GAPE will be spearheading the initiative to have the structure built and asked President Ramotar to support the venture. “Trinidad already has its professional centre and we all started around the same time, so we will be soliciting Government’s intervention,” he said.