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Opinion & Analysis

Skills and Technology College with modern apprenticeships

By Edwin Reyes

The GSD is seriously committed to the concept of modern apprenticeships and we believe in the need to offer more in this field than what Gibraltar currently provides.

Those pupils who do not wish to pursue an academic future need to be provided with opportunities through modern apprenticeship programmes which, if properly structured, have the same standing as higher education qualifications offered via purely academic institutions.

The time for investment is now. Not just investment in formal academic education heading towards entry into institutions like universities, but also in the co-ordination of training and skills through vocational courses that carry internationally validated and recognised accreditation.

We must not forget the ultimate duty of providing comprehensive education programmes and opportunities for all students who are our future generations: “It is our obligation to ensure all pupils always achieve their maximum potential.” Therefore, based upon the principle of offering equal opportunities for all, we will work towards delivering fairer prospects to all our pupils in keeping with their abilities and personal interests.

For too long there has been insufficient provision for the teaching of traditional crafts and skills such as Plumbing, Carpentry, Painting & Decorating, Tiling, Bricklaying, Mechanical and Electrical Trades, General Construction Skills, and other areas leading towards specialist technical fields such as engineering. These specialist skills can provide job opportunities for many Gibraltarians and would make us less dependent on foreign labour upon which we are increasingly reliant due to there not being enough appropriately trained and qualified Gibraltarians.

Additionally, there are new opportunities in Technology that are not being maximised. Provisions for our more vocationally orientated pupils need to be addressed and resourced so that we may provide further and alternative career paths. We, the GSD, commit ourselves to providing this as Gibraltar should be ready for anything which the future may throw upon us - and this includes having the necessary craftsmen and technicians adequately trained and qualified for any eventuality.

We would envisage being able to accommodate this within a new Skills and Technology College to cater for and deliver internationally recognised and accredited training courses in traditional crafts and technical skills, as well as modern digital skills and technology.

While secondary schools could, and should, at a certain level develop vocational and practical skills in their syllabi, we believe that establishing a specific Technical College will allow the development and resourcing of vocational pathways in a clearer, more structured, and better targeted way. This College and its programmes on offer must be flexible to allow students to pursue both academic and non-academic “A” Levels and “T” Levels. It will be a win-win situation for all students irrespective of their natural abilities.

As part of this overall project, we will also roll-out high-quality “Apprenticeship Programmes” in conjunction with the industry concerned. Companies who wish to be on the Approved Contractors Lists and bid to obtain contracts or sub-contracts from Government, or on Public Tender, will be obliged to participate in the “Apprenticeship Programmes”. Additionally, “Apprenticeships” must lead to real jobs, fair wages, real training, wage increases on satisfactory completion of training, career progression and ongoing training opportunities.

Together we can provide the best possible prospects for our future adults who will soon be embarking upon their own working lives. It is only right and proper that we ensure we are providing all pupils with the best possible opportunities for their futures. If you are passionate about providing equal educational opportunities for all our pupils, just as we in the GSD are, then I urge you to cast all your 10 votes in favour of all 10 GSD Candidates.

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