Give us the work!
Local engineers want stake in building projects
With the Central Bank of Barbados recently predicting a pick up in the construction sector, local engineers are hoping that they will be included in the mix for new projects.
In fact, President of the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers (BAPE) Jason Marshall said it was his hope that BAPE’s 250 members would be given first priority, while expressing concern that in the past they had been overlooked in favour of imported talent.
At the same time, Marshall blamed the association for not being as vocal as it should have been in educating the population on the availability of engineers and their abilities.
“Usually we are in the background and we come to our little sessions and we bicker about various things that are going on in the economy. So as president one of the things I am aiming to improve is our voice. So there are a lot of concerns in terms of construction and some of the key projects that need to happen in Barbados to see development and businesses grow and actually get some businesses.
“Also there is a concern that there are foreign engineers and different areas people offering services coming into Barbados and the local engineers want to have opportunities that are due to them,” he told Barbados TODAY.
While the BAPE president could not say how widespread the problem was, he maintained that it was not a case of a lack of talent locally to fill available posts.
“I am quite confident because if you ask our secretariat we have engineers coming out [of university] every year. There are quite a few mechanicals, civil and electrical engineers who don’t have anything to do. So a lot of them call the Secretariat and tell us they want jobs.
“The truth is we can’t offer jobs to people but at the same time you look in the paper and you see applications for work permits for engineering jobs or you go to various plants. And I am not being biased, but you do notice that people from outside the country are coming in,” he stressed.
Referring specially to the stalled Four Seasons project, the electrical engineer said many local businesses had “suffered greatly” because they had invested heavily in the hope that they would benefit.
“I am not an economist but there has been too much talk and we need for things like that to go forward for some businesses to climb out [of the economic doldrums] and to survive,” he added.
In keeping with the requisite Act, the local Engineers Registration Board requires individuals not registered as chartered engineers by the Engineering Council of the United Kingdom, work under the guidance of a senior professional engineer for a minimum of three years before they can be officially certified.
However, Marshall lamented that there were not enough opportunities available for graduates to practice their craft and become registered engineers.
He also acknowledged that BAPE’s mentorship programme was under-utilized because “a lot of the young engineers do not have jobs”.