CORNER BROOK — The fact the developing mining and oil and gas sectors in Guyana came looking for training expertise in Newfoundland and Labrador says a lot about the level of education being provided in the province, says the president of the College of the North Atlantic.
Ann Marie Vaughn was in Corner Brook on Thursday morning to take part in a teleconference that linked her up with representatives from the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s and officials situated in Georgetown, Guyana as they jointly signed agreements to pursue educational opportunities in the South American country.
Guyanese Natural Resources and the Environment Minister Robert M. Persaud, on behalf of the Guyana Mining School and Training Centre, signed a letter of intent with the College of the North Atlantic and also a memorandum of understanding with the Marine Institute.
Instructors from the College of the North Atlantic and the Marine Institute could be delivering their expertise to the people of Guyana interested in careers in the natural resources sectors before the end of this calendar year.
“That can only be of benefit to the programs we offer here in the province, the students we offer them to and the development of relationships we build internationally,” she said.
The courses to be offered in Guyana would be short courses, mostly one or two days in duration, and would be delivered in Guyana by instructors from this province. Vaughn said some of that expertise in engineering and mining programs could come from western Newfoundland campuses in Corner Brook and Baie Verte, along with those offered through the college’s schools in Labrador and St. John’s.
Eventually, Vaughn noted, this could possibly lead to some students from Guyana pursuing longer-term courses as international students at a College of the North Atlantic campus or the Marine Institute.
“This is a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “It could bring value to Corner Brook as it could bring to St. John’s at Seal Cove and Ridge Road (campuses) on all aspects related to engineering, When you think of mining, it brings Corner Brook into play again in terms of the natural resource base that we support here in this part of the province.”
To facilitate the initiative, the college has provided a list of training courses to the Guyanese government. Once priority training areas have been identified to meet immediate needs, a joint action plan will be developed for course implementation.
The memorandum of understanding with the Marine Institute provides a framework for advancement of education, training and research and development in Guyana, similar to how that institution contributed to the development of the offshore oil industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Glenn Blackwood, Memorial University’s vice-president for the Marine Institute, said the institution is looking forward to doing similar work with Guyana’s developing industry, but said the work can go beyond mining or oil and gas.
“They go into marine transportation, ocean technologies, fisheries and coastal resource management,” said Blackwood.
Persaud was amazed with the rapidity that these documents could be signed since initial site visits were only made this past May.
The minister said the natural resources sector in Guyana is still young, with oil and gas still at the exploration stage and diamond and gold mining poised for tremendous expansion.
“With these activities taking place, we recognize that we need to improve our skills, we need to develop a broad skills base, we need to ensure we have appropriate technology and that we have a mechanism through which we can deliver the type of training and the type of support to the industry and to the sector,” he said.