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WINDALCO equips students with practical skills

Published:Friday | September 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Sparks fly as Sherri-Ann Wellington welds a part in WINDALCO'’s machine shop.

More than 30 tertiary students from communities within and outside the West Indies Alumina Company's (WINDALCO) operational areas benefited from a J$1.5m summer-employment programme at the company over the past two months.

The Summer Employment Programme ended on August 31.

WINDALCO's director of Human Resources, Glendon Johnson, explained the reason behind the venture. "We believe in investing in our future. We believe that when we do so, we not only aid in the development of communities, but also in the development of our country. Furthermore, education is a fundamental driver of economic growth. When we invest in education, particularly at a practical level, we are equipping students to meet the changing demands of the job market."

He added that the summer-employment programme is also among the many ways the company gives back to the communities in which it operates. "We have many initiatives aimed at engaging members of the communities. We strive to ensure that members of the communities benefit in one way or the other. Not everyone will benefit from the employment opportunities we provide or the scholarships we award. The summer employment programme is part of efforts to bridge that gap."

For the two-month period, students who participated in the summer-employment programme received hands-on experience in their respective fields.


invaluable experience


The students have described the programme as an invaluable experience which will enhance their professional development. They noted that other places of employment would have offered them clerical jobs despite their area of study.

Junior Brown, final-year mechanical engineering diploma student at the University of Technology, is one such person. Having a background in schematics, he was placed on the special projects team. He explained what the experience was like. "I was responsible for producing schematic drawings of the cooling tower circulating water system on the plant. In doing that, I got an understanding of where the water goes and what the water does as it relates to the overall alumina production process."

Kavaughn Murray, who recently graduated from the Northern Caribbean University with a bachelor of arts degree in biochemistry, was placed in the lab. He says the practical experience taught him a lot. "Being here has reinforced the methods used in biochemistry at large; it has contributed much to my learning curve, and I'm glad I now have practical experience of how the Bayer Process works." The Bayer Process is the principal industrial means of refining bauxite to produce alumina. Murray was one of three students who worked in the lab.