Sixty-eight apprentices, including a lone female, graduated yesterday from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Port Mourant Training School on the Corentyne. Their training included both practical and theoretical. The institution conducted its 53rd graduation exercise which was attended by several senior officials in the sugar industry including its Chief Executive Officer, Rajendra Singh. The male and lone female apprentices graduated in fields such as Auto Electrical training, Instrument Repair Mechanics, and Sugar Boiling. Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, who delivered the feature address, praised the school as the “premier technical and vocational training centre in Guyana,” to loud applause. “I say that because I am stating a simple fact,” he noted. He urged the graduates to take their rightful place in the sugar industry. “The training centre here continues to produce high quality technical support staff for GuySuCo itself and for other industries in our country.” Ramsammy said that the school’s graduates can be found throughout the Caribbean, North America, Europe and in Africa, “and that is testimony to the success of Port Mourant Training Centre.” Sugar, he said, has remained the lifeblood in the country and number one in creating employment, “and the largest number of families in our country relies on sugar for their living.” “GuySuCo contributes significantly to sports, to health, to the electricity supply of our country.” He added, “Like every sugar industry in the world, GuySuCo is indeed facing challenges, and yet, GuySuCo has had gains in the past. “But GuySuCo is not saying to the world that our days are numbered, it is saying to the world that the glory days of the past do not represent our destination. The glory days of the past are a milestone.” In the years to come, he added, “We will create new glory days and put the glory days of the past behind us and establish new standards and new bars for the future. I say that with all confidence and at a time when we are under great scrutiny, and at a time when there are people that are hopeful that we will fail.” The company, he noted, is no longer just comfortable producing raw sugar but over the years, several by-products have been developed and produced, “and we will produce value- added products; packaged sugar; other products; we will continue to build our portfolio in terms of producing energy.” The Co-generation Plant at the Skeldon Sugar Factory, he added, will continue to boost the electricity supply in Berbice, and further into the national grid. The distillation capacity of the industry will continued to be enhanced with the recent operation of the ethanol plant at Albion Estate. GuySuCo’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Raj Singh, congratulated the new apprentices, their family and staff of the school. “You are coming into the industry at a very challenging time,” he posited. “The industry is full of challenges but with employees like you, with the skills that are required, we can succeed.” He urged the apprentices to take their training received from the school seriously as well, and to follow the footsteps of their predecessors who were trained by the industry. “Let me assure you, this industry is going to be here for you and is going to be here for a long time— you might have heard some speculation that we should get ourselves out of sugar. Well, I am sure that’s not going to happen.” He assured those present that “this is an organisation that, if you work hard, you can grow and grow to the highest level in this industry.” Manager of the school, Mr. J. Sookpaul, said that members of staff at the institution continue their professional upliftment with three persons reading for their Bachelor’s Degree in Public Management at the University of Guyana, Berbice Campus, (UGBC), and one studying at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE). Staff, he said, will continue to be trained in their various fields so as to enhance teaching. Programmes, he added, are also tailored to meet the needs of the Board of Industrial Training (BIT). Entrepreneurial training workshops were conducted by Mr. Krishna Sharma for all instructional staff. The institution is also working side by side with the National Accreditation Council to do an accreditation for the Training School. The school, in collaboration with the BIT continues to offer evening classes to members of the community. Since the classes began, 274 persons were trained in refrigeration and air- conditioning; fitting and machining; welding and fabrication; electrical installation; motor vehicle repairs and supervisory management, of which 179 graduated in October 2013 and the second batch is scheduled to graduate next month. The BIT, he added, has approved the next batch which will commence training in September. Sports and Culture, he said, are important to the lives of the apprentices, in the form of various sports activities and athletics championships, spearheaded by sports enthusiast Mr. Levi Nedd. Cultural activities also play a pivotal role in the lives of the apprentices. Brinmore Phaul, a former apprentice and retired factory manager; and Mr. Jairam Petam, Human Resources Manager, GuySuCo were among those addressing the graduation. The programme was punctuated with various cultural items after which the certificates were presented by the various officials.