Jamaicans log onto Skills for the Future ProgrammeWednesday, June 16, 2021
Hundreds of Jamaicans are currently being trained under the free Skills for the Future Programme by the Flow Foundation, in partnership with the Caribbean School of Data (CSOD). This was disclosed at a recent virtual event for participants in and facilitators of the programme.
The Skills for the Future Programme provides foundation knowledge in digital and data literacy and is currently being executed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Flow Foundation and the Mona School of Business & Management.
Speaking to the background for the Flow Foundation to drive this programme, Kayon Mitchell, Executive Director, stated that the pandemic further highlighted the digital knowledge gap that exists. “As more businesses and schools transitioned to the digital space, it was clear that many were not prepared with the necessary skills set or means to operate in the online space. Given Flow's work in connecting more unserved and underserved communities to the digital world, it is very important for us to equip as many Jamaicans as possible to participate in this fast-evolving global digital economy.”
She emphasized that the Flow Foundation is committed to supporting Jamaicans and helping them to unlock all the opportunities available in the digital space. As such, the Foundation is underwriting the cost to roll out this programme to approximately 4,000 Jamaicans across the island.
Dr. Maurice McNaughton, Director of the Center of Innovation at the Mona School of Business & Management, provided an overview of CSOD while emphasizing that “digital has become the dominant mode of engagement whether in commerce, social interaction, or economic activity.” He underscored that “without digital literacy and data skills, we are going to be seriously challenged to be competitive as individuals, as a society, as an economy in today's world.”
The curriculum is free for participants, online, self-paced, and is estimated to take students 12 weeks (three months) to complete. Each group of students is supported by a trained facilitator to ensure they stay on track and have the tools they need to complete the programme. Consisting of 4 courses - Foundations of Being Digital, Productivity for Digital Workers, Social Media and Web Applications, and Data Fundamentals, the Skills for the Future Programme is covered under 16 modules, with a final Capstone project that requires students to demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving while applying the knowledge gained, and digital skills to a given business scenario. The programme can easily be accessed through any device such as tablets, desktops and mobile phones/stand-alone mobile phone apps that do not require continuous Internet connectivity.
Participants will be presented with a certificate of achievement upon completion of the programme at which time, they should be able to pursue careers in the areas of SEO Clerk/Online Ad Monitor, Mobile/Web App Tester, Data Processor and Market Researcher.
Ms. Okenya Barrett, a graduate of the Data Collectors Programme and current facilitator of the Skills for the Future Programme, shared her experience with the programme. The 33-year-old, who is a mother of one and works in the BPO industry, spoke frankly about her exposure to data and digital literacy while participating in the Data Collectors Programme.
“A couple of months ago, I would have said, “Yes, I am digitally literate. I mean I use social media, I can use a computer – that's being digitally literate, right?” She continued, “Then I took part in this programme and it opened my eyes. I wasn't even close to being digitally educated.
Now, I can proudly speak of the whole new set of skills that I have acquired as a result of this programme. I am confident that I am now truly digitally literate, and I really see the value of this and its importance to my future as well as that of my family's well-being.”
Barrett further shared that the experience was so transformative that it inspired her to give back as a facilitator to “help others become digital members of the society”. She acknowledged that she had also seen the benefits of being able to add skills like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Data Cleaning from the programme to her portfolio and translate those into employment opportunities.
In closing, Mitchell further disclosed that the Skills for the Future programme is among a suite of offerings from Flow, including: Training for Professionals programme in partnership With One on One Educational Services, The Hive (a platform connecting Employers and Freelancers) in partnership with Ingenuity Technologies, and an Entrepreneurship Programme, focused on supporting Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs).
She charged the prospective students to become role models on this digital inclusion journey where everyone, regardless of age, is encouraged to seize this opportunity.
For more information and to apply, visit www.flowfoundationja.org.