The Trust for the Americas’ JET Project Graduates First Cohort in Digital and Life Skills
Kingston, Jamaica – September 17, 2023 – The Trust for the Americas, through its Democratizing Innovation in the Americas (DIA) Program, celebrated the in-person graduation of the pioneering JET Project cohort, “Pixels of Possibility.” Fourteen young Jamaicans can now make way for themselves in the labour force after acquiring digital and life skills through the Unleashing the Potential of Jamaican Youth Through Empowerment and Training (JET). This event is a resounding testament to the project’s dedication to bridging the digital divide in the face of the digital economy.
The JET Project aims to equip young Jamaicans with essential skills while supporting their transition into the digital workforce, freelancing, or entrepreneurial ventures. As of 2022, youth unemployment rates in Jamaica had surged to six times their pre-pandemic levels*. Notably, the JET Project used the results of a labour market study generated by Citibeat’s artificial intelligence platform. Web programming and app development emerged as top digital skills in demand. The training modules challenged students to think differently about engaging with technology.
At the event, Milton Drucker, Special Advisor at The Trust for the Americas, said: “... this project is an example of what can happen when we harness private and public sector resources and the goodwill of community leaders. The Trust has a mission to give people who otherwise cannot participate in the digital world a fair chance. Moreover, through the DIA Program, we aim to give youth the tools to innovate, use their native creativity, and develop their own independent businesses.”
Likewise, Sudaney Blair, Operations Associate at the IDB, expressed: “There is a disconnect between some of the opportunities available in the global market and what our young people can access. And so, in discussion with The Trust for the Americas, in terms of understanding the needs of and helping to move our young people to a stage they would have had access to (opportunities), we were very excited (to be involved). I charge you today to take advantage of the opportunities... You do not necessarily have to travel to make an impact, so make the impact.”
Finally, in her valedictory address, Bianca Powell, a JET Project graduate, shared: “I saw the JET Project as an opportunity to gain more digital skills. Having the confidence to use the tools and to use them effectively has been life changing. I just started using Canva (a graphic design platform) within the past three months, and I’ve gone from being unable to use it to building a website – that’s crazy to me! We also built an app, and never in my life did I imagine that I’d be able to do that.”
The JET Project’s inaugural graduation marks the beginning of a transformative journey for these 14 young Jamaicans, who have become “Pixels of Possibility” and are now poised to soar in the digital economy. This milestone underscores the commitment of all partners involved to empower Jamaican youth and build a more resilient labour market for the future.
There has been a major increase in expressions of interest for the second intake of students. Importantly, the JET Project is also focused on providing pathways for students to put their skills into action – through entrepreneurship, work placements, and freelancing opportunities.
Naketa West, Local Coordinator of the JET Project, said: “The JET Project’s momentum is building, and we’re actively seeking to collaborate with more small and medium-sized enterprises, organizations, and partners that can offer meaningful opportunities to our graduates.” More information is available at es.surveymonkey.com/r/DJ875NN.
The project is a collaborative effort implemented by The Trust for the Americas with financial support from the NCB Foundation, Microsoft, Citi Foundation, and the IDB LAB. The project is also powered by the leadership of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), the Caribbean School of Data (CSOD), and the Ministry of Education and Youth. It exemplifies the power of public-private partnerships in driving positive change.
* Source: ILO (2022)
About The Trust for the Americas:
The Trust for the Americas is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS). It was established in 1997 to promote public and private sector participation in social and economic development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our initiatives, implemented through local partner organizations, seek to improve access to economic opportunities as well as to foster innovation in vulnerable communities in the hemisphere. To this end, The Trust also promotes social inclusion and good governance. The Trust has offices in Washington, D.C., Colombia, and Canada.
More information: www.thetrustfortheamericas.org
About Democratizing Innovation in the Americas (DIA):
DIA is a regional initiative of The Trust for the Americas that was launched to foster innovation and empower new generations through access to technology training, specialized curricula, collaboration spaces, mentorship, and financial resources for social and economic ventures.