Modern Jamaica Today 17

UNDER CONSTRUCTION (Fine Tuning)

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Thousands of young Jamaicans will be trained as software developers to create cutting-edge technologies through the Amber HEART Coding Academy.

The academy, which was officially launched on Thursday (January 14) by Jamaican Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is a partnership between the HEART NSTA/Trust and the Amber Group, in collaboration with the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme and the Art of Living Foundation.

Mr. Holness said that the coding academy will significantly improve the employability of citizens, particularly the nation’s youth, and serve as the catalyst for a new age of digital transformation locally.

He noted that the development of the academy is the first step in creating a coding industry in the country, which will position Jamaica as a technological leader in the region.

“The services that you could provide as a result of this is incredible; the benefits, exponential. It will create a totally new industry, providing new opportunities for young Jamaicans,” he noted.

National Coordinator for the HOPE Programme and Board Member, HEART NSTA/Trust, Colonel Martin Rickman, said that the first cohort of students has already settled in, and has started its one-year residential training programme at the Stony Hill HEART/NSTA campus.

“We want them to gain superior coding skills through an immersive learning environment, whilst also equipping them with the soft skills to change their outlook and mindset. In addition, this modality will enable us to keep the students safe during the pandemic and lead them to a successful career in the shortest space of time,” Col. Rickman said.

“The Stony Hill campus of the HEART/NSTA Trust was a natural fit to provide a beautiful environment, adequate residential facilities as well as fostering mutual bonding and support,” he added.

Col. Rickman said the aim is to train thousands of young persons over the next few years at satellite locations across the island.

“This initial phase is a pilot project where we have engaged 100 participants in two cohorts of 50. These participants will be engaged in an intensive and immersive six-month training programme taught by a team of highly qualified master coders from the Amber Group, after which they will undergo a six-month internship programme,” he informed.

Col. Rickman said the hands-on internship programme will see the participants develop software programmes alongside senior developers.

He noted that at the end of the training, all successful graduates will be NCTVET-certified and guaranteed jobs, through the Amber Group.

“This initiative will provide a whole new world of opportunities for those participants and for the country. This new generation of coders would have left the programme having gained, not only technical skills but the soft skills, such as stress management, problem-solving and creativity and an innovative mindset to transform the world and position Jamaica as the next technological hub of the region,” Col. Rickman said.

For his part, Founder and CEO of the Amber Group, Dushyant Savadia, said that the software development continues to be the fastest growing sector in the world.

He noted that last year, the market was valued at US$487 billion and it is anticipated that it will grow to over US$507 billion in 2021.

“We, however, expect that the industry’s value will exceed this projection because more businesses are incorporating greater technology as a result of this pandemic,” Mr. Savadia said.

“Jamaica is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this growing need. We are an English-speaking country, we have the talent, and now, through the Amber HEART Academy, we will build the competencies,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, said the Ministry welcomes this collaboration between the Amber Group and the HEART NSTA/Trust.

She noted that the establishment of the Academy is in sync with the Ministry’s plans to expand and embed science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) in schools.

By Latonya Linton – Jamaica Information Service

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