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Online initiative to enhance career opportunities

by Barbados Today Traffic
5 min read

Government has entered into a partnership with Coursera that is earmarked to bring significant benefits to Barbadians and enhance their digital competencies and expand career opportunities.

The partnership between Coursera, one of the world’s leading online learning platforms, and Government’s National Transformation Initiative (NTI), is designed to equip Barbadians with the knowledge, skills and values to be citizens of good character and competence in a digital world. The agreement was officially signed on February 28 and the technical integration activated on April 1.

Through the Commonwealth of Learning-Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative last year, in partnership with the Government, more than 5,600 Barbadian workers learned new skills, enrolling in 19,000 courses and completing 38,000 lessons.

The success and impact of this initiative has paved the way for a long-term partnership, marking NTI and Coursera’s joint commitment to helping Barbadians prepare for a digital future.

As part of the initiative, Coursera and Google, a Coursera industry partner, are providing 20,000 scholarships to Barbadian women across the country.

Scholarship recipients can access entry-level certificates from Google to prepare for roles in IT Support, Project Management, UX Design, and Data Analytics, at no cost.

“The NTI has been anticipating this launch for three months. We have been working alongside Coursera’s Government, enterprise, content, integration and implementation teams to deliver the first of several phases of eLearning to meet Barbados’ needs across multiple sectors,” said NTI’s Coursera Project lead, Marcelle Greenidge, ahead of last Saturday’s official launch.

“Preparations have been focused on ensuring Barbadians’ expanded access to training designed equally to equip them with critical success skills, and assist them in acquiring competencies as they advance through existing and changing careers in current and emerging sectors.”

The NTI director, Dr Allyson Leacock, was upbeat about the new platform. “We are delighted at this three-year partnership with Coursera, which aligns with the NTI’s goal of national transformation, self-directed learning, and our desire to infuse Barbadians with a passion for new ways of teaching and learning that we hope will foster more respect for our multiple intelligences. This is at the heart of NTI’s inclusive approach to knowledge,” Dr Leacock said.

With access to over 4,000 courses and 1,000 Guided Projects from 200 leading university and industry educators, Barbadians can learn job-relevant skills like digital literacy across fields such as business, technology, and data science.

NTI and Coursera curated learning pathways to help Barbadians improve their skills and prepare for careers in in-demand local sectors including tourism and hospitality, blue and green economies, and the creative economy.

The programme includes entry-level certificates, such as those from Google, which can quickly equip workers with no college degree or technology experience with skills to enter high-growth careers.

“We’re honoured to partner with the government of Barbados to help thousands of displaced workers earn the skills they need to re-enter the workforce in high-demand local sectors, including tourism and the green economy,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO.

“By providing 20,000 scholarships to Barbadian women, we can help enable an inclusive recovery where anyone can unlock economic opportunity through learning.”

“Helping people get the skills they need for great jobs is essential to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to reach their full economic potential,” said Lisa Gevelber, Vice President, Grow with Google.

“We’re proud to support the Government of Barbados’ effort to equip 20,000 women with in-demand skills, and to offer free access to the Google Career Certificates through our partnership with Coursera.”

NTI is part of Government’s Retraining and Retooling programme (ReRe), itself a construct within The Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) Programme.

Commenting on the programme in 2018, Prime Minister Mia Mottley noted: “The Re-Re Programme, which involves the Retooling, Empowering, Retraining and Enfranchising of workers has to be at the core of the International Monetary Funded (IMF) programme over the four years.

This is the next phase of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme that is a comprehensive retraining of Barbadian workers in an effort to make the workforce globally fit for purpose.”

Coursera was launched in 2012 by two Stanford Computer Science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, with a mission to provide universal access to world-class learning. It is now one of the largest online learning platforms in the world, with 77 million registered learners.

Coursera partners with over 200 leading university and industry partners to offer a broad catalogue of content and credentials, including Guided Projects, courses, specialisations, certificates, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

More than 6,000 institutions have used Coursera to upskill and reskill their employees, citizens, and students, including in high-demand fields such as data science, technology, and business. (PR)

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