Some 600 unattached young people from communities across Jamaica are benefiting from training and certification under the Universal Service Fund’s (USF’s) 2019 Technology Advancement Programme (TAP).
Under the initiative, which got underway earlier this month, the youngsters are being equipped with skills in information and communications technology (ICT) in order to improve their economic prospects.
The one-year programme involves collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), with training being held at the USF’s Community Access Points (CAPs) and HEART Trust/NTA locations.
One of the participants, Oshane Walters, from the parish of Clarendon says that he is looking forward to the certification, which is internationally recognised.
“It was a lifeline and they sought to make the best use of the opportunity”— USF Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Deleen Powell
Oshane says that he is a technology enthusiast, and believes that the programme will help him to monetise his passion.
USF Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Deleen Powell, says that the programme was created “out of a need that we recognised existed, particularly among young persons, many of whom had no real interaction with information and communications technology in a meaningful way”.
She notes that while many youngsters have smartphones, they lack basic ICT skills, such as word processing, and have never interacted with computers.
“They would not know how to type a letter using Microsoft Word or create a spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel,” she says.
“If they are going to function in a professional environment, they need to have those basic skills,” Miss Powell contends.
The CMU is equipping them with skills in data management, data collection and analysis, digital literacy, social media and entrepreneurship.
“If they are going to function in a professional environment, they need to have those basic skills.”— USF Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Deleen Powell
Upon successful completion, the participants will receive certification from the HEART Trust/NTA equivalent to the institution’s Level 2 qualification, and a certificate of completion from the CMU, which will enable them to matriculate into a programme at the university.
Miss Powell says that the objective of the training is not just for the participants to gain employment in the field of ICT.
“We also want to set that foundation, that if they should choose to go into business for themselves, they would have these building blocks to help them along the way,” she notes.
TAP, which is in its second year, was launched in 2018 with 890 participants. Of the total, 665 persons successfully completed the training.
Miss Powell says that approximately 15 per cent of the trainees were retained by organisations after completing their job placement.
“For many of them, it was a lifeline and they sought to make the best use of the opportunity,” she notes.
Another positive impact of the programme, she says, is that many of these 890 persons became a part of the formal financial sector, having had to open bank accounts in order to receive their stipend.