JIS News

Approximately 120 young people from several Spanish Town communities will this year benefit from a programme designed to provide training in software and applications (apps) development and entrepreneurial skills.

The project, dubbed: ‘Spanish Town Software Techies Programme’, was officially launched on Thursday (July 11) by Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell.

Speaking at the function held at the newly-renovated computer room at the offices of the Spanish Town Citizens Against Gun Violence Coalition (STCAGV) in the Old Capital, Minister Paulwell gave his full endorsement to the initiative.

“I am sure that the programmes you will be doing here will enable both the young and the elderly to participate and to become a part of the information age,” he stated.

He noted that in support of the programme, the Government has donated a sum of $2 million from the Universal Service Fund (USF) to refurbish and outfit the STCAGV computer room, to facilitate the training.

The room is equipped with 10 new computers, a server, a printer, workstations and an inverter air conditioning unit.

Convener of the STCAGV, Rosemarie Green, expressed gratitude to the Government for the assistance, noting that it will go a far way in improving the lives of the residents.

She informed that the Spanish Town Software Techies Programme is a pilot programme designed to provide skills training and social intervention for at-risk youth in the greater Spanish Town area.

Designed as a public/private partnership, participants in the programme will learn programming and apps development skills, and be mentored in Information Communication Technology (ICT) entrepreneurship.

Ms. Green told JIS News that the programme will be carried out in tranches and is expected to benefit some 120 young people annually.

“I wanted very much for the young people to be trained in something that would elevate them… and so I felt that if they developed apps that can be sold worldwide, it would be a good thing not only for them, (but also for the country),” she said.

The group will be testing a new business model where income from the apps and software developed at the centre will be split between the participants and the centre, to offset operating expenses. Also, if there is a profit, a small contribution will be remitted to the Government in recognition of its investment.

“They will do the apps, sell them, and they will get 50 per cent of the profits. We would get 40 per cent to support our organisation and 10 per cent will go back to the Government of Jamaica in gratitude for what they have done for us,” Ms. Green explained.

Programme participant, Jodi-Ann Chuck, said she is excited to be part of the initiative and expects that it will help her develop computer and entrepreneurial skills.

“This is a very good start for me and many other young people in the Spanish Town area,” said the Heartlands community resident. “The world is now technology-driven and everybody wants to learn how to use technology to improve their lives and I’m sure this programme will help us to achieve that and more.”

Beneficiary communities include Tawes Pen, De La Vega City, Ellerslie Pen, Crescent District, Heartlands, Windsor Road, Rivoli, Thompson Pen and other violence-prone areas.

The aim of the STCAGV is to provide opportunities for skills training and employment for residents, offering an alternative to crime and violence.


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