Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) through the Caribbean School of Data (CSOD) in collaboration with FLOW Foundation held a virtual graduation for its first cohort of 130 persons in the Skills for the Future Training programme on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. The 12-week programme sought to equip Jamaicans ages 16 to 60 years with skills in data management and digital productivity to compete in the growing digital environment.
The CSOD is an initiative under the Centre for Excellence and Innovation at MSBM. The partnership between the FLOW Foundation and the CSOD stems from the need for Jamaicans to develop competencies in navigating the digital space. In turn, this will allow them to take advantage of online opportunities to earn and excel in the workplace. Dr. Maurice McNaughton, Project Lead and Director of the Centre for Excellence and Innovation at MSBM, expressed his contentment with the progress and partnership for the programme. “With the kind of visibility that FLOW brings, we are at the target of 4,000 sign ups and this first cohort is an important message that we can and will achieve our target of 4,000 Jamaicans graduating from the programme, which is just a start,” he noted. He added that although the programme targeted youth, the age range of participants highlights the extent to which seniors have been embracing the training opportunity.
Speaking on behalf of MSBM, Dr. David McBean, Executive Director, highlighted the significance of the inclusive nature of the programme and the opportunity it provides for persons who did not benefit from formal education in digital skills. Dr. McBean also commended the University of the West Indies (UWI) for its contribution to the programme. “Very often people question the relevance of the UWI but this programme would not have existed without the support, innovation and creation of awareness of this programme by the UWI,” he noted. He believes that through programmes like these, there will be a noticeable change in economic wellbeing and opportunities will be provided for everyone regardless of age.
In bringing remarks on behalf of Google, a major funding partner of the CSOD, Mr. Gustavo Alvarado, Country Marketing Manager, highlighted the importance of this programme for Jamaica. He expressed the view that the benefits of digital innovation are evident as it provides solutions to complex challenges in many sectors but noted the challenge that persons have in accessing training which therefore underlines the importance of programmes like these.
The Flow Foundation is currently undertaking a number of digital education initiatives including this programme, with a focus on individual empowerment and Mrs. Kayon Mitchell, Executive Director of the Flow Foundation noted the foundation’s dream of impacting the lives of Jamaicans and building lifelong skills that will enable progress and enhance lives through digital inclusion. “We wanted to provide this opportunity free of charge to all Jamaicans who have an interest. We are giving Jamaicans an opportunity to progress and secure better lives for themselves and their families,” she expressed.
In her keynote address, Guest Speaker, Dr. Gunjan Mansingh, Head of the Department of Computing and Senior Lecturer at the UWI,Mona, focused on the importance of the programme’s certification. She highlighted, "We are standing on the brink of a technological revolution that has altered not just the way we work but also how we relate and socialize with each other.” In emphasizing the need for people to become digital beings, she charged the graduates to use the skills gained to create value in this developing digital society and provided examples of the use of Artificial Intelligence to solve real life problems. In closing, she congratulated the graduates on playing their part in closing the digital gap and highlighted the need for individuals to become digitally literate to further close the gap that currently exists.
Speaking on behalf of the graduates, Top Performer, Ms. Tricia Manning expressed sincere appreciation for the training. “COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the need for digital transformation. Many organizations are now quickly embracing digital solutions in order to meet the demands of their clients. Workers must be able to identify and use technology confidently, creatively and critically to meet the demands and challenges of working in a digital space,” she noted. She added that all the graduates benefited greatly from the information provided and developed skills that will allow them to undertake a greater variety of digital tasks. She also lauded the facilitators who provided support which contributed to building their confidence in completing the programme.
The CSOD implementation partners in Jamaica are Slashroots Foundation and MSBM and the CSOD has also partnered with Operation Save Jamaica who will provide 600 students in communities across Jamaica to benefit from the initiative.
Applications are currently being accepted for the programme. To sign up, visit www.flowfoundationja.org.