Professionalism: Jibreel Talbot, 32, started his welding firm in 2005. He learned the trade as a boy from his uncle. *Photo by Simon Jones
Professionalism: Jibreel Talbot, 32, started his welding firm in 2005. He learned the trade as a boy from his uncle. *Photo by Simon Jones

The days of ‘cowboy’ craftsmen are numbered.

A Government programme to drive up standards across trades is celebrating its first batch of success stories.

Yesterday, 77 Belco industrial electricians, 47 independent electricians and 46 welders were awarded National Certification.

There are plans to expand the initiative into the fields of carpentry, masonry, plumbing and horticulture in 2011.

The certification lasts five years and proves the tradesman has gone through a six-stage process that includes registering with the National Training Board, completing examinations and an assessment interview and submitting a work binder.

At the end of the process, successful candidates receive a certificate and an ID card.

The project is overseen by the National Training Board and was first hatched in 2004 under the National Occupational Certifications Act.

Labour Minister Colonel David Burch said yesterday that a nationally certified technical workforce added credibility to the industry.

He added: “The Department of Immigration has aligned its policies with the requirements for national certification to ensure that our guest workers also demonstrate competence in their occupation.

“This will assuredly minimise fraudulent activity and provide a ‘level playing field’ in employment practices.

“Consumers can expect to encounter more qualified professional tradesmen, increased safety awareness and possibly reduced expenses.”

An average day for Jibreel Talbot can start with him 30ft in the air in full welding kit and end with him 30ft under the sea in diving gear fixing moorings.

As a tradesman, his skill extends above and below the surface of the water.

His expertise in his field has been recognized by the National Training Board, which awarded him and a select group of other tradesmen with National Certification.

Mr. Talbot’s interest in metal was sparked at a young age by his uncle, Greg Talbot, who ran a welding shop just behind his home.

The 32-year-old said: “I would go round there after school and help out where I could.

“In the early days I was making gates and railings and it just went on from there. I spent six or seven years working with my uncle, learning the tricks of the trade and then branched off on my own.”

Mr. Talbot went on to work with Works and Engineering at the quarry in Bailey’s Bay.

He travelled abroad to Jacksonville in the U.S. to gain qualifications to do underwater welding.

In April 2005 he set up his own business, Perfect Pass Diving and Welding Services.

He said: “When I came back after getting my qualifications, I was over-qualified for a lot of the jobs that were on the market, so I set up Perfect Pass on my own.

“A ‘pass’ is a welding term, so the idea behind the name is to get across a neat bit of work.

“When I started out on my own I was probably a little naïve.

“I put all my savings into it, bought a machine and a truck and worked really hard. Over the years people have seen what I am capable of and it’s going well.”

Perfect Pass has a string of projects on the go, including high-pressure piping and welding for Shell.

Mr. Talbot, a dad of three, said: “I enjoy going to work in the morning. It’s a good profession and you have to be versatile.

“The National Certification adds to the professionalism of the trade.

“It levels the playing field  — you have to have it to ply your trade in Bermuda.

“It provides a minimum standard which customers can expect across the board and it builds trust in the profession.”

Labour Day special

As Labour Day approaches, the Bermuda Sun takes a look at the island’s immigration trends. We examined the influence of a reported influx of low-wage unskilled labour from overseas combined with the more familiar faces of the well-paid international business workers and asked — where does this leave regular Bermudians?