The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), in partnership with Quess Corp Limited and the University of The Bahamas (UB), launched the Tech Edge Upskilling Program focusing on training and job placement for Bahamians in the technology industry and aimed at establishing Grand Bahama as a technology and innovation hub.
Organizers are looking to sign up to 50 participants for the first cohort, which is scheduled to begin October 15 and run for eight to 12 weeks.
“This program is a part of our overall vision,” said GBPA President Ian Rolle, at the launch announcement last week in the GBPA’s conference room.
“In regards to Grand Bahama becoming this tech and innovation hub that we all envision, we need to first focus on the development of our people.”
Rolle said that collectively, the partnership will make a significant impact on the employment numbers in Grand Bahama, especially in the tech space.
“This program is very unique to The Bahamas in that we will not only train the participants, we will find job placements for those successfully completing the program,” he said.
“The idea is once you go through this program, where you will be properly trained in a particular skill, you will work with one of the entities who represent a client of Quess.”
Quess, India’s leading business services provider, leverages its extensive domain knowledge and future-ready digital platforms to drive client productivity through outsourced solutions.
Quess North America CEO Daniel Friker said the 15-year-old company has become one of the largest employers in the world with over 525,000 consultants deployed across nine countries, and over 3,000 customers across a variety of industries from FINTECH to banking and IT.
“What is going on in the macro-economic environment is companies want flexibility, and customers are asking you what type of talent you have access to, and what are the onshore, offshore, and nearshore rates,” Friker said.
Of the Tech Edge program, he said, “This public-private venture is really predicated and built on several examples around the world where cities and locations have partnered public-privately to not only work with industry to find the talent they need, but actually make their investments and employ them properly.
“So, we are looking to match a variety of our customers, look at what they are looking for and present them with the options. Is it something they can do here or remotely?”
The program’s courses will cover – cyber security, mobile app development, and cloud computing, which organizers believe are key components in the development of needed skills for a comprehensive workforce.
CEO of Integrated Business Solutions International and project consultant Dr. Donovan Moxey said Freeport’s proximity to the US, access and legislative framework makes it an ideal location.
“When we look at growing this tech sector in a strategic way, the service providers such as lawyers, financial service providers, accountants all need to be a part of this ecosystem and recognize that who you are dealing with are tech companies and people who have that tech mindset,” Moxey said.
“And so, from our perspective, we want their service providers to really be aware of the opportunity that’s being presented to them.”
Moxey said organizers are hoping to attract Bahamian professionals who are working abroad in the tech sector back to The Bahamas.
“We are putting together what we call a STEM Professional Database that will allow Bahamians anywhere in the world, including locally, to be able to put their skills in a database that will become available to companies that are looking to come to The Bahamas and recruit workers,” he explained.
“So, when you look at any other Caribbean country and compare The Bahamas to them, we have all of the basic ingredients.”
Tech Edge is open to all Bahamians over 18 with a high school diploma. Individuals interested in the program can apply online at techedgebahamas.com and the deadline is September 30.
GBPA Business Development Officer Trevor Simmons explained that once a candidate applies, there will be a vetting and interview which will be done by a Quess representative.
“They will ultimately determine which candidates will be a part of the first cohort,” Simmons said.
“I want to emphasize, this is the first cohort; there are more to come. We plan on having multiple cohorts throughout the year.”
Simmons said, “The training will be in hybrid environment with one weekly in-person instruction session at the Susan J. Wallace Community Centre. Once students have completed the training, they will sit the respective certification exams.
“Then, through our partners at Quess Corp, the goal is for successful candidates to be placed with job opportunities either locally, overseas or remotely.”
UB North Division of Advancement Acting Director Rickelle Albury said the partnership with the GBPA and Quess is a good fit for the university as it directly aligns with the UB Ignite entrepreneurship program.
“We are committed to preparing students in both the Associates and Bachelors Degree programs in STEM – inclusive of computer science, IT and entrepreneurship, while preparing lifelong learning to acquire the skills necessary to improve their possibilities of being ready for the workforce or to find work,” Albury said.
“A program such as this provides industry connections not only within our community but extends to a wider global reach.”