Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, says the Government remains committed to empowering the nation’s youth through technology.
She notes that as countries prepare for the global onset of the technology-driven fourth industrial revolution, “it is absolutely imperative that our youth are prepared and possess the skills needed to participate”.
“In a digital world filled with endless possibilities, opportunities which provide training, support and access in the area of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for our youth are significant and augur well for our transition to a digital and knowledge-based society,” the Minister said.
She was speaking at the Huawei ‘Seeds for the Future 2019’ internship programme departure ceremony on Thursday (August 22) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.
Mrs. Williams reiterated that the Government and its stakeholder partners are undertaking several initiatives intended to strengthen the ICT competencies of the nation’s young people.
These include: $200 million to be provided during the current fiscal year by the Universal Service Fund (USF), an agency of the Technology Ministry, to finance ICT projects.
Mrs. Williams explained that this undertaking, being done in collaboration with ICT experts in the public and private sectors, “will provide funding for young entrepreneurs who seek to solve real life problems through technology”.
Additionally, she said, come September, 600 unattached youth will commence ICT training under the USF’s Technology Advancement Programme (TAP).
The Minister informed that the TAP will be synced with the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme, “and will be an avenue through which youth will acquire the intellectual tools to ensure they are not left behind during the fourth industrial revolution”.
She further said that the Government has approved $7.9 billion to provide shared tablets, computers and audio-visual equipment at infant and primary schools over the next several years.
Mrs. Williams said these activities represent a continuation of engagements initiated in the 2018/19 fiscal year during which, “we strengthened the ICT infrastructure of several tertiary institutions to enable fast and reliable connections via Wi-Fi”.
“As a Ministry, we are strengthening the ICT infrastructure in our educational institutions and creating avenues through which our youth can be supported in their technology driven ventures,” the Minister further stated.
The ‘Seeds for the Future 2019’ programme is a two-week internship at technology firm, Huawei, in China.
The programme seeks to develop local ICT talent, enhance knowledge transfer, promote greater understanding of and interest in the ICT sector, and improve and encourage regional building and participation in the digital community.
Ten computer science students from the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus and University of Technology (UTech) have been selected to participate.
The represent the third cohort to participate, and will study cutting-edge ICT at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen from September 4 to 21.