President of Street Legends Mobile Trade School, Wilton Russell (l) and Interim President of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), Dr. Linda Davis, share a light moment before signing a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations.

The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) and the Street Legends Mobile Trade School have teamed up to help young people learn a trade and earn a living through the national Smart Start programme. Shown here are President of Street Legends Mobile Trade School, Wilton Russell (l) and Interim President of BTVI, Dr. Linda Davis.

Photos: BTVI

 President of Street Legends, Wilton Russell recently expressed excitement about partnering with BTVI to train and certify participants following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two organisations.

Participants will be enrolled in the national Smart Start programme initially aimed at giving students who disengaged with the learning system during the Covid19 pandemic, the opportunity to obtain workforce readiness certificates.

“If these young people are no longer on the streets and engaged in something positive, it’s the perfect way to combat crime. We intend to take them off the blocks,” said Mr. Russell.

Street Legends has existed for 17 years with the mobile component having started this year.

“We want it to now be taken a notch higher. We want to provide participants with more sustainability. They get to learn the fundamentals of a trade. Having a trade is a way to put food on the table. They won’t have to look for handouts,” said Mr. Russell.

Street Legends unites communities through sporting programmes. Now, it has collaborated with BTVI to roll out the Smart Start programme in New Providence. The national programme is endorsed by the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training. 

Scheduled to run for 12 weeks full-time, the broader programme allows participants to earn a certificate in Automotive Mechanics, Beauty, Construction or Fashion Trades at no cost to them. Participants from the Street Legends Mobile Trade School will focus specifically on Plumbing, Welding, Construction, Electrical and Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

Classes will be held at community centres and on the campuses of several public schools. The programme includes a 30-hour service-learning, apprentice-type component which is incorporated in partnership with industry and business partners. The curriculum also focuses on soft skills including employability and communication skills.

Meanwhile, BTVI’s Interim President, Dr. Linda Davis was pleased to sign the MOU with Street Legends, acknowledging the work done to bring it to fruition.

Dr. Davis thanked Mr. Russell for including community centres and BTVI’s Dean of Construction, Alexander Darville, for concluding earlier dialogues begun with the Street Legends Organisation and getting more businesses involved through this partnership.

“This is a model of which we should be proud as it demonstrates the power of partnership with private businesses and industry. The beauty of this arrangement is through Mr. Russell’s contacts, we have access to young people who desperately need the skills we offer through Smart Start,” said Dr. Davis.