Girls are being encouraged to consider careers in information and communications technology (ICT), by the Most Hon. Juliet Holness.
Opening the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) ‘Girls in ICT Day’ event on April 26, Mrs. Holness implored the girls in attendance to explore the possibilities in the sector, highlighting that the European Commission has predicted a skills gap of over 500,000 ICT jobs by 2020.
She further noted that the United States Department of Labour has forecast the creation of approximately 1.4 million information technology (IT)-related jobs, and Canada is expected to create over 218,000 computer-related jobs.
“As ICT levels the playing field and makes the world much smaller, the opportunities are global,” Mrs. Holness said, adding that “as a woman, you can do anything”.
She identified special skills that women take into ICT, such as emotional intelligence, attention to detail and passion.
Mrs. Holness encouraged the girls to be a part of the male-dominated field, noting that she herself was employed in a male-dominated area – real estate development.
In the meantime, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, in his message to the girls, noted that Jamaica was among 166 countries observing ‘Girls in ICT day’, which takes place every fourth Thursday in April.
He identified projects being undertaken by the Government in the field of ICT, including the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) training of over 1,000 young persons through the Technology Advancement Programme (TAP), highlighting that approximately 60 per cent of the trainees are females, who will be employed by various government agencies at the end of their training.
Additionally, the Minister said that through the USF, a scholarship is provided annually to help aspiring young women in the ICT sector.
“Together, industry, Government, parents and teachers must act now to ensure the gender-gap barrier is removed, and that the future progress of our girls and young women is not hindered,” the Minister said.
He noted that the Ministry is leading by example, with females in numerous leading roles, such as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Hillary Alexander; and Managing Director for the SMA, Maria Myers Hamilton.
The SMA hosted approximately 40 girls from 14 high schools at their ‘Girls in ICT Day’, held at the Sagicor auditorium in New Kingston.
The event, which was a part of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) observation of the day, was held under the theme ‘Expanding horizons, changing attitudes’. It was aimed at encouraging girls to consider careers in the ICT field.