Following the regional launch of the Caribbean School of Data (CSOD) on September 12, 2019 in the Dominican Republic; the programme will be launched in Jamaica on October 1, 2019. A partnership between Google.org and the Caribbean Open Institute (COI), the CSOD aims to reduce the digital divide and empower detached local youth by providing digital and data skills.
The Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) and the SlashRoots Foundation are the main implementation partners of the programme, and operate jointly through the COI. According to Dr. Maurice McNaughton, Director of the Centre for Excellence at MSBM, “The CSOD is first and foremost a concept that grew out of research and development work that we have done over the past several years through the COI with various partners across the Caribbean... and the recognition that across the region we are ‘data poor’...with limited access to high quality, locally relevant, openly accessible data, and a culture that does not consider data as an economic asset nor exploits it sufficiently to create value for businesses, and improve service delivery in the public sector.”
“[At] Google we want to strengthen these initiatives that, in addition to generating real inclusion for less-favored populations, promote the development of an entire region with great potential,” says Giovanni Stella, Google’s Country Manager for Colombia, Central America and the Caribbean.
David Soutar, Co-Principal, Slashroots added “Equipping the region’s citizens with the necessary knowledge and skills to access and benefit from the growing global digital landscape is a core aspect of the SlashRoots Foundation’s mission. We believe technology can be a catalyst for economic growth and social change but only through an equitable and inclusive process of digital transformation.”
The Caribbean School of Data will enable, over a period of two years, the training of at least 1,500 disadvantaged young men and women, aged 18-29 in seven countries. The training is aligned with the needs of the domestic and global online labour markets to ensure graduates acquire new job competencies and covers topics ranging from data literacy to advanced data management skills, visualization, integration and analyses.
According to the Inter-American Development Bank, young people between the ages of 16 and 24 represent an average of 25% of the workforce in the English-speaking Caribbean, and approximately one in five people between the ages of 15 to 24 is not in school or is part of the workforce. The Caribbean region occupies a low place in the levels of innovation and education, key components of economic growth. An investigation conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank found that innovation is less likely to occur due to human capital limitations, so the result could have adverse consequences for medium-term development.