In February 2020, Jamaica saw its first cohort of graduates for its digital skills training programme under the Caribbean School of Data (CSOD). Tasheen Duncan, valedictorian shared her experience with us.
First Cohort of Jamaican Students Graduate Regional Digital Programme
March 23, 2020…Kingston, Jamaica. February 2020 saw the first Jamaican participants in the Google.org-funded Caribbean School of Data (CSOD) graduate after undergoing a 12 -week digital training programme which included skills in digital foundations, digital productivity tools, social media and digital fundamentals.
Established by Google.org together with the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) and the Jamaica-based SlashRoots Foundation’s Caribbean Open Institute (COI), CSODaims to prevent young people in the Caribbean from falling victim to the ‘digital divide’ or being ‘data poor’ whereby they lack the skills to be competitive in today’s increasingly digital and data-driven workplace.
Valedictorian, Tasheen Duncan applauded the initiative, saying, “I can truly say that during this programme we have learned and have taught each other so much, it was truly a blessing. I speak on behalf of myself and my classmates, we have been thoroughly prepared to take on the digital world and we surely will. It might take time and much more practice but it will happen. Now for the favorite part…. at the end of each class we were given a warm meal and drinks, it might not seem to be a very big thing for the programme but it is most appreciated…(and) I’m pretty sure that we all enjoyed having our own tablets along the way.”
“We all look forward to the internships as well as all the business ideas that will be born along the way.”
Tasheen’s CSOD journey began August of 2019, when she and other students were enrolled in the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Sameer Younis Foundation and ChangeMakers hosted CSOD Jamaica pilot cohort. This programme was initiated as part of the digital skills training under the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP) Youth Grant initiative. The students were given tablets, access to the course material, and guided facilitation through to the completion of their final projects – problem-solving for real-world business case scenarios.
Notably, the CSOD has also launched a cohort in the Dominican Republic, where 250 students are currently being trained , with new groups to start courses in Guyana, Puerto Rico and Saint Lucia early this year.
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 IADB said that has Caribbean relatively low levels of innovation and education, key components of economic growth, and that without improvements in the labour force this could limit medium-term development.
David Soutar, Co-Principal, Slashroots Foundation added “Digital and Data Skills are integral to the youth of our region being able to compete in the emerging Digital Economy. Initiatives such as the Caribbean School of Data aim to equip the next generation of our workforce with the knowledge and skills necessary for the region to be competitive in the global marketplace.”
The CSOD is designed to enable, over a period of two years, the training of at least 1,500 young men and women, aged 16-30 in seven Caribbean 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, visualization, integration and analysis skills.
“[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.
Other local implementing partners, who help identify and enroll young persons for the training, are the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Sameer Younis Foundation, ChangeMakers Limited.
Google.org is Google’s philanthropic branch that was founded in October 2005. It works to expand the reach of nonprofit innovators and connect them with a unique mix of support that includes funds, tools and volunteers from Google. The objective of Google.org is to bring the best of Google to boost the work and accelerate the progress of these innovations that have the greatest impact on the communities they represent and whose work has the potential to produce significant changes that can escalate globally.
About Caribbean Open Institute
The Caribbean Open Institute (COI) is a regional coalition of organizations that promotes open development approaches to inclusion, participation and innovation within the Caribbean, using open data as a catalyst. The COI’s primary activities in Capacity building, Advocacy and Research, are funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
About Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM)
Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM), UWI Mona, is the premier Business School in the region and offers a suite of undergraduate and graduate programmes including the internationally accredited MBA. Its mandate is to be the arm of the University that facilitates effective business education and practices in the private and public sectors in order to advance the economic development agenda of Jamaica and the region.
About The SlashRoots Foundation
The SlashRoots Foundation has partnered with a variety of government agencies, development organisations, academic institutions and private sector organizations to better use technology, user-centred design and data to improve public services and create innovative solutions to complex problems. They believe that digital technologies create new opportunities to address social ills and aim to help organizations incorporate these values into their work.