David Smith, Harvard University

 

David Smith, Harvard University


CARIBBEAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY


Prepared by R. David Smith, Harvard University

Established in February 1999, The Caribbean Institute of Technology is a partnership between the government of Jamaica (and more specifically, Human Education and Resource Training (H.E.A.R.T.)), Furman University, the University of the West Indies, the International Development Consortium (IDC) in the UK, and India Global. The mission of CIT is to offer a world-class computer programming education to Jamaican students, with the aim of empowering these students and establishing a high-end technology sector to help boost Jamaica's slumping economy.

 

In its first year of operation, 56 students are currently attending CIT. In the 1999/2000 academic year, the Institute will admit 105 students, and plans are in the making to create a second institute in Kingston, which will in turn take on 150 students. It is the goal of CIT to train several hundred students per year within a few years.

 

The Curriculum world. It offers the students an in-depth education in computer programming, while at the same time giving them the tools to adapt to the ever-shifting IT world." --Dr. Ken Abernethy; Curriculum Director, CIT; Director, Furman's Rushing Center for Advanced Technology.

 

The concept of the Caribbean Institute of Technology (CIT) was created with two primary goals: 1) providing Jamaican citizens high-quality training and education in software design and computer programming, and 2) offering professional development education for Jamaican information technology workers and managers. With its unique curriculum created by a partnership between industry professionals from The University of the West Indies, Furman University, and The University of Hertfordshire UK, CIT will exceed these goals.

 

All training modules are designed to provide extensive hands-on experience and conceptual foundations. The intent is to train a world-class workforce. To do this, CIT provides not only training but also the educational foundations that will allow graduates to grow with a rapidly changing industry. Thus, the CIT curriculum has been designed to balance both the practical and conceptual approaches.

 

The primary programming curriculum focuses on:

 

Additional special programming curricula is designed for:

 

World Wide Web programming with back-end databases for Web commerce applications.

In addition to the programming training center in Montego Bay, CIT has developed a workshop/seminar curriculum to provide ongoing professional development for workers in the information technology sector. These workshops and seminars will range from one-day to two-day events and will be offered at a variety of sites within Jamaica.

 

Because the curriculum is so comprehensive and of such high quality, students who pass the exit exam will be awarded a diploma fully certified by the University of the West Indies, Furman University, and Cambridge University in the UK. This Certificate will give students international credibility.

 

The Students

CIT's students come from all parts of Jamaica. All students are high school graduates, and many of them have had some post-high school education. To attend CIT, students must pass a standard reasoning exam based on logic and math as well as pass through a series of interviews. It is the aim of CIT to admit willing and capable students, while at the same time being open to students from all classes and locales. It is CIT's goal to educate and empower hard-working Jamaicans, no matter the background from which they come. The H.E.A.R.T. trust of Jamaica offers students flexible loan packages, so all prospective students can attend. Furthermore, the Jamaican government through H.E.A.R.T greatly subsidizes all students' educations.

 

Through its strategic partnership with India Global, CIT is able to guarantee all graduating students a job in Jamaica. In fact, India has opened up shop near to the school and will hire qualified graduates, offering them an average starting wage of about $US14,000 to 20,000 per annum. The per capita income in Jamaica is $1,500 per annum. Over time, India will expand its operations, and with its success, other IT companies will also come to Jamaica, offering further opportunities and growing the domestic industry.

 

The IT Industry

In today's dynamic business environment, decision-makers in the U.S. information technology industry must focus on making their companies more productive and cost-effective in order to compete in the ever-changing market place. Technology companies are expected to accomplish this at a time when:

 

hardware and software technologies are rapidly changing,  software costs are increasing,

information systems budgets are being trimmed, and  information systems' budgets are being slashed.

Information Systems managers are trapped between diminishing in-house human and financial resources, and burgeoning software development needs. The response of many European and North American companies has been to seek cheaper software development and maintenance services from other parts of the world. The Caribbean, Latin America, the Far East, Eastern Europe, South Africa, and South Asia are all possible sources of these services.

 

The Need for Programmers

A number of research studies have revealed there is an acute shortage of programmers in the U.S. and a large number of vacancies in the IT industry. A study that was conducted and published by the Information Technology Association of America last year shows a nationwide shortage of 200,000 professionals to fill currently open IT positions. U.S. Department of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 2 million people in the U.S. who would be classified as IT professionals, which means that there are about 10% fewer people than there are positions for them. Based on current trends, this number will continue to rise. The situation is similar in other technologically developed countries. Major corporations will no doubt look to offshore resources to help fill this acute need for the foreseeable future.

 

CIT aims to tap into great business opportunities in the IT industry. Already, CIT and Indusa have contracted a $US1million project from Realm Technologies developing OEM software for Bay Networks, Netgear line of products. More multi-million dollar projects are in the makings right now! All these projects will be handled by CIT graduates with professional oversight by Indus Global. With the success of these projects, more IT companies will come to Jamaica, empowering Jamaican citizens and growing the local economy.

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