One hundred and fifty at-risk young people will be afforded opportunities to make better of their life and circumstances through a US$1.5-million Digital and Innovation Centre, thanks to the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Foundation in partnership with The Trust for the Americas, a non-profit entity affiliated to the Organization of American States (OAS).
“This is a momentous day for young Jamaicans and this is just the start, as we need to embark on an actual campaign to get the message out,” said NCB Financial Group Chairman Michael Lee-Chin at yesterday’s signing of the memorandum of understanding at the bank’s Atrium offices in New Kingston.
The centre will be part of the Trust’s larger initiative, ‘Creating a Brighter Future for Jamaican Youth through Technology and Innovation’, which seeks to establish 11 technology centres and innovation laboratories across Jamaica to foster economic growth and citizen security through workforce development, technology training and leadership skills.
In a one-year period, the initiative will offer the participants the opportunity to follow one of two tracks: Skills of Tomorrow– which includes digital skills, coding, and job readiness – or Entrepreneurship, which provides innovation modules on business and opportunity to create microenterprises.
The Trust for the Americas began designing the strategy in 2016 after receiving a generous grant from Citi Foundation to establish the first Innovation Laboratory in Jamaica, and additional support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“We live in an era that is driven by technology and innovation. By democratising innovation, we give every Jamaican the opportunity to create wealth,” NCB’s head honcho said.
Trust CEO Linda Eddleman said, “The NCB Foundation Digital and Innovation Centre will be the first to provide skills for the jobs of tomorrow to at-risk youth. Every centre designed by The Trust focuses on different challenges and opportunities.
She said that the OAS is working to promote STEM education, leadership and job readiness, combined with innovation and entrepreneurship readiness throughout Jamaica.
Meanwhile, OAS Secretary for Hemispheric Affairs James Lambert noted that in an ever-connected world, it is important to invest in technological skills training, reasoning that those new abilities demand a new approach in the way we think of work and the way we discover opportunities, especially for youth.
“The Trust of the Americas is very proud to partner with the NCB Foundation to launch this digital centre and the distinct focus it will bring on STEM subjects and knowledge and abilities on the part of youths to ensure that today’s students become the change makers, and people that are capable of challenging and pushing forward into our dynamic future,” he said.