#Kingston, June 18, 2018 – Jamaica – Hundreds of young Jamaicans are being exposed to tertiary training this summer through an internship programme at the University of Technology (UTech). The programme is being carried out through a partnership between UTech and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), which has been developed to enable the interns between 18 and 35 years of age to get a pre-university experience in a college setting.
Approximately 1,000 underserved young people from across the island’s 63 constituencies will be engaged over four separate three-week periods. Cohorts consisting of approximately 250 participants will be accommodated on the UTech campus and will attend classes in a number of subject areas. The courses developed by UTech for the programme are Mathematics, English, Information Technology, Robotics, Land Surveying, Entrepreneurship and Basic Construction. The youngsters will be placed according to their interest and academic competence.
Endorsing the collaborative initiative between the two entities, Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, said it represents “hope and is a golden opportunity”.
“We believe in the youth of Jamaica. So many young people have the dreams of pursuing an education at our tertiary institutions but lack the means or the resources to make it possible. Today, we are making dreams possible… under this programme,” he said.
Dr. Wheatley was addressing the launch of the internship programme at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on June 14. The Minister noted that the interns will have an opportunity to be introduced to future work environments and “help in deciding future career choices”.
“It will also help the interns to acquire important supplementary skills during the stated period while opening the doors to potential future employers,” he added.
Dr. Wheatley said the experience gained will help to structure future studies of the participants and enable potential economic benefits. He encouraged them to seize the opportunity being offered to them with both hands by putting their minds to the task at hand, arguing that there is no reason why (they) cannot “develop the next breakthrough technology”. Dr. Wheatley said this internship programme mirrors another, which is also training 1,000 youth under a partnership with the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).
Meanwhile, PCJ Chairman, Russell Hadeed, said the internship programme embodies his organisation’s corporate social responsibility policy, which gives priority to initiatives that allow them to support education and youth development. He expects that with the exposure, the interns will be able to develop their technical and entrepreneurial skills as well as be able to pursue tertiary studies. Mr. Hadeed said that the participants, who will be awarded certificates of competence, are expected to contribute to nation-building.
For his part, UTech’s President, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with the PCJ “to provide secondary-school graduates and youth in underserved communities with a pre-university experience”. Noting that the programme is already under way, Professor Vasciannie said the first of three cohorts of students, who have been resident at UTech since May, completed training on June 8.
“So far, the programme has been going well. It has been a good cross-faculty exposure (for the students) with inputs coming from our Faculty of Engineering and Computing, Faculty of the Built Environment and the College of Business and Management, including the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management,” he said.
Professor Vasciannie said that UTech continues to enjoy a very productive and long-standing partnership with the PCJ, developing initiatives aimed at capacity building in engineering education, scholarships and research.