TUESDAY, AUGUST 23: A scheme to train Bermudians in landscape gardening is expected to produce 24 skilled workers in the next two years.
Tekania Swan, 34, from Hamilton, is one of the first six trainees to be accepted for the training programme, called the Railway Trail Hiring Initiative.
It is being run by the private company hired to maintain the Railway Trail in partnership with Government.
Ms Swan said: “I used to be on the Hustle Truck. I did some landscaping and I got really interested in it. I like making Bermuda look beautiful. It’s fun.
“I just want to learn more about using the tools — I think it’s going to be a great opportunity. It’s a good programme and one I suggested a long time ago.”
Teo Burgess, 26, from Hamilton Parish, has worked in construction and security and volunteers at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
He has been looking for full-time work for a while and is enthusiastic about the programme.
“I’m willing to work — there are lots of things I want to do, but it’s one step at a time and this training opportunity is a good start,” he said. The scheme was unveiled by Derrick Burgess, Minister of Public Works, today.
It is hoped the scheme will ease fears among landscaping companies about loss of staff after a Government crackdown on work permits for overseas workers.
Company owners warned that they faced problems in attracting and keeping Bermudian workers to replace lost staff.
Mr Burgess said: “This initiative is a direct result of listening to the needs of the private sector and in particular the landscaping industry, which highlighted the challenges with training and retaining Bermudians to fill the many jobs now held by contract workers.
“It’s an employment and training opportunity that will provide the participants with horticultural skills intended to improve their chances of gaining full-time employment with private landscaping companies.”
The training programme, which starts next month, is likely to take four to six months.
The first trainees will be taught skills including use of landscaping tools such as chainsaws and trimmers, surfacing, fence repairs, bench installation and safe use of pesticides.
Mr Burgess said the partnership with the private sector meant Government did not have to invest in extra resources like vehicles and tools.