Voices April - September 2023

10 8 April- September 2023 | VOICES Bi- Monthly Magazine of the University of Technology, Jamaica Pointing out that in Jamaica’s relatively small economic base, only five industries routinely earn over $200M per year in foreign exchange – tourism, business process outsourcing, mining and quarrying, food and beverages and refined petroleum, the Minister underscored the need for more diversified industries that can generate more foreign exchange. In this context, Dr. Clarke asserted that Jamaica has educational institutions like UTech, Jamaica with the capacity to produce sufficient numbers of persons for the tremendous opportunity provided by the knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) sector which can potentially earn Jamaica billions in foreign exchange. The Minister explained that this significant KPO opportunity exist in the information technology business enabled services that deliver services such as data analytics through machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity, data security and other related emerging fields. “These can be delivered remotely,” Dr. Clarke noted, adding that “All that we need are sufficient numbers of Jamaicans on island who have the skills on which these services are built.” Dr. Clarke further emphasized that “the Government is serious about taking advantage of this opportunity that Jamaica has, and it is for this reason why we are making a concerted effort to support the production of qualified, trained and skilled graduates in STEM areas generally and in particular, in the emerging subsectors of computer science.” Continuing the Minister said, “We are doing this with UTech under the leadership of Lloyd Carney who has a vision for what UTech can become and for what Jamaica can become with UTech optimizing on the opportunities,” Dr. Clarke added, “I am happy that there is a keen alignment between the vision of the Chancellor and the direction of the government with respect to the prioritization of STEM and related ideas, further stating that UTech, Jamaica “ is one of the leading sources of job-ready science, engineering, computing and technology graduates for the workforce, and has been doing that for a long time.” Commenting on the “Business Case Proposal for STEM Computer Science Scholarship” submitted earlier this year to the Ministry by UTech, Jamaica, Dr. Clarke noted that “we received a great proposal from UTech and we are acting on it.” In his address, Prof. Haldane Johnson, Acting Deputy President, UTech, Jamaica, characterised the collaboration between the University and the two government entities as a “win-win model for Jamaica’s development,” noting that the initiative aligns well with the University’s mission, “to positively impact Jamaica and the wider Caribbean through high quality learning opportunities, research and valueadded solutions to government, industry and communities.” Prof. Johnson noted that student beneficiaries of the STEM scholarships will have the opportunity to choose from 13 programmes offered by the Faculty of Engineering and Computing in Computer Science, Computer Network and Security, Animation Production and Development, Computer Information Systems, Gaming, Applied Artificial Intelligence, Mechanical/Electrical/Civil/Chemical/Industrial engineering.” Executive Director, SLB, Ms. Nickeisha Walsh, in her presentation stated that “We will include a mechanism to ensure that scholarship recipients commit to adequate time working in Jamaica and contributing to national development.” She added that the SLB is pleased to be collaborating with UTech, Jamaica noting that “as we transition our economy to boost Jamaica’s capacity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a robust STEM programme will play a significant role in this chapter of our nation’s history.” She further pointed out that the partnership along with the accompanying objectives is a “step in the right direction” for Jamaica. Hon. Nigel Clarke (centre), Minister of Finance and the Public Service shares a photo with other Government representatives, UTech, Jamaica officers and students who were present at the ceremony for the signing of a MoU for the implementation of 1000 STEM Scholarships over the next five years for UTech, Jamaica students.