“Technology is the future and we are placing the future in the hands of the young people of Mayaro.” This declaration was made by Rachael Caines, Corporate Responsibility Advisor, BP Trinidad and Tobago (BPTT), at the launch of the inaugural NextGen Teen Coding Camp at the Mayaro Resource Centre on Thursday (August 8th).
The passion to learn was ignited in 30 young people between the ages of 13 and 19 from across the south-eastern community of Mayaro. The students are taking part in five days of revolutionary training, held under the theme of “decoding our future”, that will expose them to technical and practical aspects of computer programming as well as web-based and mobile development, all of which is critical to an evolving digital economy.
The Mayaro students will also collaborate with their peers from Port of Spain where the first leg of training was completed recently.
“With our home community of Mayaro, as well as at a national level, BPTT has invested at every level in terms of educational development, ranging from ECCE to post-graduate studies. As we delve deeper into this Information Age, tech-based skills, especially programming, are highly desirable in every sector including social media, engineering, medicine, education, finance and space exploration. By targeting young people, we are helping to bridge the skills gap and empower them with the tools to enter and excel in the world of technology. We are doing our part to ensure that there are boundless opportunities open to these future leaders,” Caines explained.
Parents of the teenagers also attended the launch of the NextGen training to enable them to get an overview of what their kids will engage in and to understand how they can help to encourage their children to keep learning.
According to Ayanna Charles, the mother of Mayaro Secondary School student Valeena, “This is an excellent opportunity and these participants are being exposed to a new world of career opportunities. My daughter is really excited to learn as much as she can, and I am as well, because after just one hour in class, she already has technology-based business ideas. I am really grateful that BPTT continues to invest in the youth of our nation, and these young citizens are seeing how their education can link them to their dreams through the pathway of technology.”
BPTT is partnering with technology-based firm, Tech Beach Retreat, which is comprised of diaspora members of the Caribbean community who are at the forefront of technology, either through their own international consultancy firms or working for industry giants such as Google and Facebook.The highly interactive course will deliver an understanding of key skills including coding, distributed software development, web development, project and time management and the use of productivity tools. In addition, the course will train them on how to learn and foster creative thinking, innovation and value creation.
As one of the founding members of Tech Beach, Nicholas Maloney was inspired by the eager response from the Mayaro students. “This partnership with BPTT is about allowing young people to learn technology skills and prepare for future opportunities. We are creating a cadre of citizens who will participate and even become leaders in the global marketplace. We are also looking to expand and deliver online training targeted at all ages so that even adults can look at new careers or progress in their existing ones. With support from the public and private sector, we can achieve our vision of creating a tech-savvy workforce that will develop new business ideas and drive foreign direct investment in Trinidad and Tobago. These kids are showing us that they have everything its takes to make this vision a reality,” Maloney pointed out.
Coming out of the NextGen training, the top five students will also receive additional training in order to become technology mentors to future participants as well as assist in revolutionising other BPTT programmes in Mayaro, and nationally.
For 16-year-old Veneeta Paray of St. Stephen’s College, this was an exceptional opportunity to get a firsthand introduction to the world of high-level technology : “I believe that at the end of these five days, we will come out with not only knowledge, but also with new perspectives that will allow us to benefit from future opportunities. I am interested in software engineering and graphic design and I am positive that this course will provide a significant advantage in that direction. But who knows, maybe at the end of the NextGen training I may see possibilities in some new avenue. At the end of the day, knowledge is power and BPTT is empowering us to help create and enjoy a future of limitless possibilities.”