The island of Grand Bahama took another step towards the goal of ‘Tech Hub’ with the graduation of some 50 students of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in a special ceremony, August 30, 2018, at Pelican Bay Resort. The ICT training was made possible by a partnership between the Government of the Bahamas, specifically the Office of the Prime Minister, and Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI). It not only offered the young participants the opportunity to receive training and earn ICT certification completely free of charge, but the students were also paid a stipend after six-week sessions. The completion of the first phase has given the participants nine college credits. Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Kwasi Thompson told the audience, “The government’s vision is for Grand Bahama to become a technology hub,” and “we are building this initiative from the ground up. We believe that this initiative can make a significant impact on our economy. The establishment and growth of a technology sector will create jobs in the tech industry and can have a spinoff effect in other industries such as real estate, tourism, retail, restaurants, and transportation among others. “As we prepare our island for technology ventures and businesses, it will be critical to adequately prepare our workforce to capitalize on new opportunities and compete in a local as well as the global job market. You all will be entering the workforce in just a few short years. For some, it will be after college. For others, it will be after high school. Whichever path you take, this government has committed itself to prepare you now to be able to take advantage of these opportunities in the future.”
Mr. Thompson noted that students explored the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), Microsoft and Cisco Systems. The training curriculum takes place over the next three summers: he pointed out that by the time the students graduate from high school, they will be BTVI-certified making them already employable or having a head start for tertiary education. He noted the government has made the decision to make tuition free at BTVI, and as a result, enrollment has almost doubled in Grand Bahama. Since introducing IT fundamentals in Grand Bahama, BTVI has had to introduce three new classes of Intro to Computer because of the increase in enrollment. “BTVI will play a pivotal role in our Tech Hub Initiative,” said Minister Thompson. “I wish to take this opportunity to send the message to young people in Grand Bahama, that they should take advantage of this opportunity to prepare themselves. Come and take the Tech courses and get certified, it’s free of charge. If you are unemployed and searching for work, now is the ideal time to prepare yourself. BTVI is preparing a six-month Tech Programme that will provide you with the skills to begin a tech career. And they already have an AA degree in Computer Technology, which I emphasize the government has made free.
“We are also focused on developing other programmes to develop tech entrepreneurs who will be trained, and provided funding, from the Bahamas Development Bank. This Grand Bahama Tech Hub initiative is making progress, it is real, and today you are here because of the initiative. But this government wants to see you pursue careers at home — start your businesses at home. The ICT Skills Development Summer Programme is just one avenue through which we hope to empower Bahamians. “I want to extend regards to BTVI for crafting this program in alignment with the government’s vision for Grand Bahama. Through continued support and training, I believe that the government and our community partners will make the pursuit of dynamic, long-term careers and entrepreneurship achievable for Bahamians.”