Memorial University’s Marine Institute and College of the North Atlantic (CNA) are looking to help a South American country advance its expertise in natural resource extraction.
The two local post-secondary institutions signed a letter of intent and a memorandum of understanding with Guyana’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the country’s Geology and Mines Commission on Thursday via video conference.
“They’re beginning a natural resource development phase in the country,” said Marine Institute vice-president Glenn Blackwood. “Exploration for oil offshore looks very promising, and also, they have a very significant mining industry, with some Canadian companies involved in that as well.”
Blackwood said the Marine Institute will offer its expertise on training for marine-related activities.
Representatives from Guyana came to St. John’s earlier this year to attend the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association conference.
“They liked what we’re doing. They see where we’ve built capacity in this province of our people into these sectors, and they’d like to do a parallel process in Guyana,” said Blackwood.
Speaking from Corner Brook, CNA president Ann Marie Vaughn said the college has been working to help Guyana become familiar with its programming capabilities. High Commissioner of Canada David Devine invited representatives of CNA to Guyana earlier this year for a fact-finding mission.
“I believe contributing to the development of other places in the world, that do not have the same access to opportunities that we have grown over the years here in this province, is a responsibility of all higher education institutions,” said Vaughn.
Guyana Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud, who was in the capital city of Georgetown along with Devine, said common objectives are in place to help develop capacity in the Guyanean energy sector.
“We recognize that we need to improve our skills. We need to develop a broad skills base.”
As part of those efforts, Guyana is in the process of developing the Guyana Mining School and Training Centre.
The arrangement could involve people from Guyana coming to Newfoundland and Labrador for training purposes or even faculty and staff from the Marine Institute or CNA travelling to the Caribbean nation.
“What will come from this is future contracts, basically,” said Blackwood, who also hopes the relationship may lead to exchange opportunities for students in this province.
“We have students now placed in 16 different countries through MI International, so as those opportunities become available — student work-term placements, if possible, and students from Guyana coming here for educational training.”