At D.I.S.C. Drywall Interior Systems & Ceilings, partners Trevor Aitken and Robert Anderson lead a half-dozen all-Bermudian brigade.

ãThat was by design,ä Mr. Aitken said of the firmâs Înationalâ team.

ãOur goals· [are] to grow into a strong company; to be the best company, not the biggest, but the best company, so that people can call us up and know that· theyâre going to get a job well done and on time.ä

The Îplayersââ enthusiasm during the interview was palpable and evidenced by bids to speak on all sides.

The training

April 2001 was a very competitive time for D.I.S.C. to enter the market, Trevor Aitken said.

ãThereâs so many drywall companies that are popping up right now· bringing people in from abroad that work long hours for a lot less money than Bermudians do· This is very important now to me. This is one of our biggest points here because we believe that hiring and training young Bermudians is investing in Bermudaâs future· We are not looking for foreign workers.ä

While admitting that it is not cost effective to bring workers in from overseas ÷ and therefore not in the firmâs best interest ÷ business manager Alison Aitken asked: ãWhat better way to strengthen your company than to invest it in your own people here? We feel the best way to do that is to strengthen ourselves and our knowledge and give these guys something to be proud of in themselves.ä

She elaborated: ãWe have taken a keen interest in our staff by encouraging them to participate in the National Training Boardâs education programmes.ä

Heinz Stapff interjected: ãAnd we believe that we have the skill to give them [the foreign workers] a run for their money.ä

The apprentices

When D.I.S.C. apprentices Jahdal Williams and Lamech Israel complete their four years of study at the Bermuda College, theyâll be internationally certified and able to work almost anywhere they choose.

Asked about their training, Jahdal Williams said: ãMy boss Trevor started the idea. He had a talk with me· [gave] me the opportunity to go to school, and I didnât hesitate.ä

Noting that it was Robert Anderson who first broached the subject to him, Lamech Israel added: ãThe field that I am in looks like a field that can better me in life. Itâs a very challenging and exciting job that I can see in the future will [help me get ahead] and help me to help others· To ensure that Bermudians do have skill, being that we are a small community, [with] education, we do have the ability to work as well as those on an international level.ä

The courses begin in September and include health & safety, mathematics and English to start.

ãWeâre [enrolling] our employees into this training programme to give them a further education that they donât normally receive on job sites,ä Mr. Anderson said. ãWe can teach them to work out here, but we want to give them the brain power to think as well.ä

Mr. Aitken estimated that the training funds the company has set aside amount to between 20 and 25 per cent of their annual budget.

ãWhile theyâre out here being trained by us, weâre investing in their future as well as ours,ä he said.

And Mrs. Aitken added: ãHopefully theyâll stay with us, but if they donât, well, theyâll have something to take with them.ä