Apprentices ready to go high speed
Bermuda's next generation of telecommunications professionals are in training and anticipating a bright future for the industry.
All ten of the Bermudians who joined BTC's Apprenticeship Programme have completed the first year of a three-year programme in fibre and copper training that will see high-speed internet flooding residences and businesses across the island.
The apprentices celebrated at a special ceremony at Gosling's Wine Cellar attended by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, as well as Minister of Home Affairs Patricia Gordon-Pamplin.
The Royal Gazette caught up with the two highest scoring apprentices in the programme to talk about their progress and their future aspirations.
Kumar Grant, 26, managed to score an exceptional 100 per cent pass mark for his first year exam, which he put down to putting in extra work outside of the programme both at home and with some of his classmates.
He had already studied electrical engineering at Pennsylvania State University and felt well equipped to do the course when he saw it advertised.
He said: “I knew I had the skills and I just wanted to learn about the network system. From a young age I was always pulling stuff apart.
“I have learnt to work as a team and learnt lots of practical skills. I understand the whole process now from how the MDF dial tones are created to the end result going into the customer's house.
“To get a happy customer at the end of it is pleasing.”
Asked how he managed to score so highly in his exams, Grant replied: “When I go home I study and I take good notes to review. When the instructor is here from overseas I take good notes and pay attention to the best of my ability.
“A few of us came here after class, made up questions and each one of us would try to answer it.”
Grant said he had aspirations to be a leader in the industry and was not afraid to admit he could happily move into the position of his own tutor Kent Henry, Digital/BTC's service delivery manager, if the opportunity arose.
“I want to be a leader and keep giving good service to our customers. I am up for the challenge and am ready to go,” he said.
“I see myself becoming a leader in telecommunications for Bermuda,” describing the field as “interesting and challenging”.
Akeem Ible, 26, was the second highest scoring apprentice on the programme with a 96 per cent grade and said it was essential to have a genuine interest in the field in order to succeed.
“I took good notes and put in the time to learn as much as I could and it worked out,” he said. “It takes a real interest — you can't force yourself to do it. I have always enjoyed the technology side of things. I have always been obsessed with having faster internet ever since the internet was a thing. I am the most impatient person when it comes to waiting for a machine to do something.”
Akeem's father was a technician and moved into the telecoms field.
“When I worked with him I found I enjoyed the field and it coincided with my obsession with the internet,” Ible said. Speaking of what he enjoys most out of his work, Ible added: “It is a lot more in-depth than you initially think it would be — you find out a lot about what goes on in delivering customers the internet.
“You also find out a lot about the island, neighbourhoods; you meet people you would never meet if you weren't doing this.”
Looking to the future, he wants to pursue a career in technology. “Something like network engineering or maybe closer to the IT side, planning and designing.”
Mr Henry said that learning the field as part of the apprenticeship programme offered many advantages. “The apprentices are learning the industry from the bottom up. They have a scope and range of knowledge about the industry that will help them to advance,” he explained.
Asked whether there were many opportunities for Bermudians in the company, Mr Henry added: “It is not uncommon to find an employee who has been here for 20 or more years. Back when I started 35 years ago there were a number of us who came in around the same time but there has been a big gap and now these guys are coming in their 20s. Time will tell what opportunities will arise but it has the potential to grow.
“When you consider the amount of residents and businesses on the island and the demand that is anticipated with this technology, one would only assume that we will have to hire new people.”
It is hoped that the BTC Apprenticeship Programme will continue and discussions are ongoing within the company.