200 small contractors benefit from free training

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Housing and Urban Development Camille Robinson-Regis – File photo/Sureash Cholai

Free training sessions for small and medium contractors last week were oversubscribed despite heavy rain.

On November 26, contractors attended a seminar at UWI’s St Augustine campus. It was jointly hosted by the TT Contractors Association and the Land Settlement Agency (LSA).

LSA representatives said 113 people registered, but more than 200 showed up as emerging contractors came to learn about concrete and masonry, structural steel and roofing and cost control.

Minister of Housing and Urban Development Camille Robinson-Regis said, “I am particularly elated that we have a vast cross-section of small and medium contractors who have taken up the LSA’s offer of free training that will ultimately help you to catapult your quality and profitability, not just with the LSA but with any job, public or private.

“Just as we have seen it in YTEPP and MILAT and the Civilian Conservation Corps, our government sees this as an investment in you. We see this as a means of empowering you so the quality of your work can improve, and by extension, reduce significantly, the number of repairs necessary on work done. We anticipate that you will profit by this training.”

Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Adrian Leonce said, “Your work makes an enormous contribution to thousands of people. Many of you understand better than large contractors that your work is not just about brick and mortar, but about building homes for families.

“Whether people live in abject poverty or in decent shelter, it often depends on the quality of your work. All that you do is very important.

“You are the persons that solve problems. The LSA is charged with helping the most vulnerable in society. The work you do is the solutions that we as a nation depend on.”

Leonce said without the LSA, people “might be living on the brink of homelessness or, God forbid, hopelessness.

“Often we are lifting people people out of unthinkable living conditions, so the quality of your work matters. Since you are all here, the quality of your work matters to you too.”

Austin Rodriguez, formerly of Readymix West Indies, presented on concrete and block masonry.

Rodriguez said, “What I presenting on has to do with the do’s and don’ts of construction. Most contractors, they not familiar or they don’t understand some of the things they do. They do it sort of out of repetition from what they would have seen somebody else do or what they would have learnt.

“Sometimes, not all the time they learnt the correct way. So we have to show them what the correct way is. You have to give them enough information to understand the reason why they do it, the purpose and the result you’d want to achieve at the end of the day. Because housing has to last.

“Sometimes they put too much water in the concrete, thinking it easier to place, but you’re putting down a weaker-strength concrete. When that strength’s compromised, then earthquake and so could really mash you up.

“In saving money to cut costs, that is where the problems arise.”

Wayne Wood said he attended the seminar because small contractors “need to be aware of modern technologies and issues regarding the use of these materials.

“At the end of the day, it’s about creating opportunities for small contractors. If we don’t get our capability up and our capacity to do work, we could never be big contractors. This helps us on the journey towards greatness, I suppose.”

Joshua Ramdean has been in contracting for a year.

“I hope to gain insider knowledge from the experts in the construction industry, not only for my company’s ability to perform good work, but also my general knowledge.

“When we build off of their experience, it’s not just us benefiting but the people who we will do work for.”