Public and private sector stakeholders have hailed the establishment of the Amber HEART Coding Academy as a groundbreaking development that will usher in a new age of digital transformation locally, and enable Jamaica to tap into the global demand for coders.
The academy, which was officially launched on January 14 by Prime Minister 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.
It will train thousands of young Jamaicans as software developers, significantly improving their employability and positioning Jamaica as a technological leader in the region.
“This Amber HEART Coding Academy, we think, is a hugely important step in the right direction towards building the digital economy of Jamaica and also towards building the future of Jamaica as the technological hub of the region,”
said President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, in her remarks at the launch.
She pointed out that with a global shortage of up to 40 million information technology (IT) workers in 2020, the training of coders in Jamaica will equip young people with indispensable career skills for their own future, as they help to build Jamaica’s digital economy and provide a viable services export sector.
“Currently, JAMPRO is the executing agency for the Global Services Sector (GSS) Project, of which a key component is the upskilling of Jamaicans for technology-based outsourcing jobs now and in preparation for the future of work in a digitally connected world,”
Ms Edwards said.
President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Keith Duncan, said that the academy puts Jamaica “on the right track” in terms of the digital transformation of the society.
“We are very encouraged by this and the private sector has already, at a high level, engaged HEART to see how we can develop sector specific programmes, because we understand that is the direction that HEART is going,”
He said he is encouraged by the potential that the facility provides to build an information and communications technology (ICT) industry “that will contribute to the diversification of our economy, and increase the efficiency, productivity and value-added to our economy”.
“I have no doubt in my mind, that we have the talent, that we can convert the potential of our youths into real IT professionals, developers. Our youths are yearning for these opportunities… they want to grab these opportunities so that we can move,”
The first cohort of students have already started their one-year residential training programme at the Stony Hill HEART/NSTA campus. Some 100 participants are being engaged, in two cohorts of 50.