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BTI graduates want students to learn trades

The Bermuda Technical Institute Alumni is pushing for a revival of technical education to support the island’s young men

Graduates of the departed Bermuda Technical Institute are continuing their push for a revival of technical education to support the island’s young men.

In the wake of the 60th anniversary of the “Tech” this year, the Bermuda Technical Institute Alumni began strategising, according to a statement sent to The Royal Gazette.

“We want, in essence, to transfer the model of the former Bermuda Technical Institute experience into the existing educational structures. The first three years at the former BTI was a comprehensive exposure to all the trades and industries. The last two years gave the students a choice of the field of study they wanted to pursue.”

Bermuda’s industrial potential suffers from a dearth of technically trained locals, the BTIA said, while students graduate “ill-equipped to meet the demands of the job markets”.

“Over the last couple of months, along with our internal meetings, we have met with various stakeholders, namely the Ministry of Education, Bermuda Union of Teachers, Bermuda College, Sandys Rotary and leaders in various fields, such as the construction, motor and automobile industries. We are pleased and very encouraged to have our preliminary thoughts received favourably by all of the stakeholders.

Much has changed since the BTI closed in 1972, including technology, and the alumni group said it was also considering the need to reintroduce technical training at the Middle School level — where the infrastructure would need to be expanded to accommodate it.

“It is our understanding that the CedarBridge Academy was initially designed to accommodate technical studies which includes hospitality and performing arts,” the BTIA said.

“We envisage students having a choice of a range of technology options, including a full academic programme, when we combine the use of the Berkeley Institute and use of the Bermuda College campuses, where each can have varying intensities of technical training for high schools students.” Linking with local industry to “reconnect” businesses with education is another priority, through work experience and apprenticeships.

The alumni group conceded that structural and wage costs would come with the initiative, which would call for a partnership with the private sector.

“The BTIA, as a catalyst, intends to reawaken that industry partnership, and believe a lot of the cost can be shared, as the ultimate beneficiary is the entire community.”