The government is focusing on education and training to help build the skilled workforce necessary to underpin its technology hub ambitions, a Cabinet minister says.
Senator Kwasi Thompson, minister of state for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, updated the Grand Bahama technology hub steering committee on the government’s plans during a recent meeting at the British Colonial Hilton. The committee was established to advise on how the “technology hub” ambitions can be realised.
“We see education as an endless door of opportunities for Bahamians from all walks of life,” Mr Thompson said. “We have incorporated technology in our schools’ infrastructure through the Ministry of Education’s digitisation project, and have created even more educational opportunities for Bahamians at the University of The Bahamas and BTVI.”
Information and communications technology (ICT) initiatives at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) and the YMCA have been designed to introduce high school students to the industry.
The ICT skills development summer programme was created in partnership with BTVI, and this year some 300 students from New Providence and 100 from Grand Bahama will all be ICT-trained and certified.
“As the programme continues, the human capacity will expand to 700-plus. These numbers indicate a strong ICT-trained Bahamian foundation for potential incoming tech companies,” Mr Thompson said.
The YMCA ICT programme in Grand Bahama, also designed for high school students, provides training in python application, computer coding, robotics, computer technology as well as mathematics, physics and related skills. It is hoped that 70 students will graduate from the programme this year.
Mr Thompson added: “The Bahamas’ approved national budget opened the window for free tertiary education for qualifying Bahamians at the University of The Bahamas and BTVI, respectively. Bahamians are encouraged to take full advantage of these opportunities because education is indeed a privilege that positions us all for upward mobility in whatever undertaking we pursue.
“Our small business owners have not been forgotten. We continually seek new tech entrepreneurs to expand their ideas. These ideas need to be pushed and developed.”
Mr Thompson announced a new project due to start in September, in which 100 members of the public will be trained in various areas of technology. The Prime Minister’s Office will partner with Urban Renewal Grand Bahama and the Department of Social Services. Five Urban Renewal Centres will be outfitted with ten computers each, and participants will receive training in the Internet, software development, website development and other ICT courses.
This training will assist with new skills, retrain for different careers and also obtain professional certificates.