September 30, 2011
City and Guilds to reopen in SVG

Following two decades absence from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, City and Guilds, a UK based vocational organisation is making efforts to reopen its doors here.{{more}}

After offering its first course back in 1878, City and Guilds has been described as the United Kingdom’s (UK) leading vocational awarding organisation, with awards of some 1.9 million certificates yearly.

Katerina Diaz, Business and Development Manager for the organization visited SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday, September 27, during a four-day visit here to provide more information on the reintroduction of the educational institution.

According to Diaz, “re-opening our doors here will eliminate the hassle and bassle for Vincentians to travel abroad to further their studies.”

Diaz explained that the organization has been offering courses to the Caribbean region for over 50 years and she is now based in Barbados, after being deployed there by the head office in the UK.

She said that she was very excited to be in St.Vincent and the Grenadines and this is because she believes there are a number of opportunities here in technical vocational education training.

After spending an entire day with the National Development Foundation (NDF), an approval was given by the City and Guilds Centre for the NDF to be the first centre here.

“We will be offering initially engineering awards and business support skills,” Diaz explained.

“Previously the Technical College in line with the Ministry of Education that was the only operating centre here, but that was a number of years ago. I am here to meet with individuals again to find out what we can do and what their needs are, if there is any way we can support,” she further explained.

Diaz went on to say that there is a high demand now for their training and qualification, which she said could complement and existing awards already being offered here and across the region.

“So, we want to make it very clear that we are here to complement and support awards, and not to compete. We hope that we have a good product that would be of future benefit and return investment back in the region,” she said.

City and Guilds offers 300 qualifications in every area which includes Business support skills, Construction Engineering skills, Beauty Therapy, Holistic Therapy and Hospitality and Catering among others.

There are also opportunities for advanced training in specialized areas such as health care, sports and teaching.

The newest qualification is the Green skill, which according to Katerina, focuses on the environment and energy awareness.

“All the courses are internationally recognized have extremely high standards,” Diaz added.

As revealed by the Business and Development manager, City and Guilds was once established in SVG but, because of lack of an office and presence, the educational institution had to pull out for a 20 year period.

“We now realize that the demand is definitely now and the time is right. It’s been a few years putting this into plan and working on a new team,” Diaz stated.

At present, City and Guilds are on an awareness campaign and seeking local offices with which to offer their courses; and upon completion, the necessary application format will be made available to the public.

“It is very important that we have public awareness and the first step will be for educational organizations such as the Technical college to be more informed, so that they can offer the courses…”

Diaz also disclosed that the institution never charges students directly.

“What we do is set up a section and the qualifications for the centres and we allow them to set their own tuition fees and other costs.”

She went on to say that SVG has a strong community that is very aware and patriotic.

“I think that it will be wonderful to see young people in particular being recognized and certified for their hard work and be able to invest back into this beautiful island, particularly in the next few years, tourism is going to be increasing with the new international airport.

“So, to have those skilled workers will be so beneficial and not having to go far way to study,” the City and Guilds Business Development Manager said.(AA)