Having long established itself as a significant contributor to tertiary education in Guyana, the Critchlow Labour College is seeking to embrace the demand for training in the various disciplines associated with the country’s emerging oil and gas industry to rebuild its reputation as a major contributor to education delivery in Guyana.
Principal of the College, Ivor English told Stabroek Business on Monday that the two-day preliminary Oil and Gas Course Seminar delivered late in May in collaboration with two Trinidad and Tobago companies Apollo Global Vision Ltd and Kaizen Environmental Services was intended to serve as an introduction to a wider ambition of creating a high-level Centre for Oil and Gas that will seek to offer courses that will equip graduates for rewarding jobs in the sector.
Towards this end the College has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kaizen and Apollo under which the two specialist companies will be intimately involved in both the design and delivery of courses run by the local Centre for Oil and Gas.
English told Stabroek Business that the decision by the College to move in the direction of establishing an institution specializing in the training of Guyanese in oil and gas-related fields had to be seen within the context of the importance which the institution places on remaining relevant. Reminding of the period some years ago when the Critchlow Labour College’s certification in Industrial Relations was recognized as a vehicle for University of Guyana admission, English said that the MOU with the two Trinidad and Tobago companies was aimed at a “long-term relationship that would see the Centre for Oil and Gas transform into and Oil and Gas Academy located off the Critchlow campus. At that stage we will be taking our training in the various oil and gas-related disciplines to diploma and degree levels,” English told Stabroek Business.
At the same time English disclosed that the College intended to engage ExxonMobil and its various oil exploitation partners to discuss a role for the Academy in meeting some of the specialized needs associated with the oil and gas recovery programme. “We are in the process of opening communication with these entities with a view to assuring them that we have the skills to deliver their requirements,” English said.
Conceding that the decision to create an off-campus facility was informed by the reality of a lack of space on the Woolford Avenue campus to accommodate all of the materiel associated with the delivery of oil and gas programmes English said that in the short term the CLC will create the faculty space and administer the programmes for which it will receive a facilities fee.
Asserting that the growth of the College’s curriculum will have to take place against the backdrop of the modernization of the institution, English said that as funds are garnered from courses which are expected to become operational over time, “revenue will be set aside for physical upgrading, computerizing etc. Our focus is to create job readiness for oil and gas. In a way we are uniquely positioned to provide these services since we are already accommodating the operations of the MATPAL Marine Institute.
English told the Stabroek Business, meanwhile, that the need to garner funding to develop the infrastructure for delivery of an oil and gas curriculum depended on significant funding. He said that much of the momentum of the institution had been reduced on account of the previous administration’s decision to put an end to the granting of an annual subvention amounting to more than $30 million annually. Two years ago the current administration restored a $15 million subvention which the College said was inadequate to meet its needs. A lack of resources has meant that sections of the Critchlow campus had fallen into disrepair and English told Stabroek Business that the institution was determined to create a modern complex.
Secretary to the Board of the College and General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis told the Stabroek Business that over the years the institution had “more than justified benefitting from a state subvention and that the current state of affairs as far as the subvention was concerned was reflective of “an insensitivity to the contribution which the Critchlow Labour College has made over the years to improving the skills and enhancing the formal qualifications of the workers of Guyana”.
English told Stabroek Business, meanwhile, the Oil and Gas Academy would be seeking to provide support to both the public and private sectors as the country seeks to build capacity in the oil and gas field.