HEART trainees attend STEAM conference in National Career Awareness Week

HEART trainees attend STEAM conference in National Career Awareness Week

Sunday, February 16, 2020

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Hundreds of HEART trainees and other students from all over Jamaica grasped the opportunity to get exposure to hands-on demonstrations as well as new and emerging careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at a conference held at Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

The STEAM conference was a highlight of National Career Awareness Week, observed February 9-14 and organised by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; the HEART/NSTA; and Junior Achievement Jamaica under the theme 'Career development: The vehicle that leads to success'.

“Jamaica can take a leading role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said keynote speaker Erica Simmons, executive director, Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing (CDIAM) at Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).

She said that the current period of the industrial revolution is about cyber-physical systems that include virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR); robotics; rapid prototyping; enterprise information systems security (to counter cybercrime); artificial intelligence; biotechnology; and space technologies.

Simmons told the attentive audience: “We are living in a time of disruption and digital transformation,” adding that this is also a period of great opportunity and that “emerging nations such as Jamaica have the most to gain because global access to knowledge has levelled the playfield”.

She encouraged the students and trainees not to allow anyone to define them, but to find their passion and pursue it by acquiring “future skills”. She revealed that the CMU will be partnering with the HEART/NSTA to develop future skills competency in areas that include cyber-physical systems.

Captain Dr Kasan Troupe, chief education officer (acting) in the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information, also addressed the enthusiastic group of students and trainees. She told them that the ministry has redesigned curricula from early childhood to high school levels to reflect the focus on STEAM competences. She encouraged the participants to “take advantage of funding being offered for exams so that you can leave school with a skill and certification, both from CSEC [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate] as well as the associate degree”.

She said that the associate degree programme is being fully funded by the Government and will make graduates more work-ready.

Dr Marcia Rowe-Amonde, senior director, TVET (technical and vocational education and training) development and support systems, HEART/NSTA, delivered greetings on behalf of Managing Director Dr Janet Dyer. She said that the vital national task of human capital development requires sharp focus on STEAM subjects.

“We want to develop the Jamaican workforce to meet its full potential,” Dr Rowe-Amonde told the gathering, “Therefore, at today's conference you will get to know what we are offering to train, certify, and empower you to be skilled experts who will be in high demand for high-paying jobs or as innovative entrepreneurs who can build successful businesses.”

Presenters included Jason Scott, who launched the first media payment platform in the Caribbean, and Shantell “Shanz” Hill, brand manager of Sunshine Snacks Jamaica and co-founder of Amase Marketing and Chambers Hydro Farms.

Among the highlights for Career Awareness Week was a national exposition on the creative and cultural industries at the Institute of Jamaica for students of selected high schools located in and around the environs of downtown Kingston.

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