Programme to teach IT to at-risk young men

  • Monica Gomez, Cisco Networking Academy corporate social responsibility manager and partner development; Rick Richardson, Bermuda Technical Institute Association chairman; Greg Skinner, Cisco regional sales manager, Caribbean and Bermuda; Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works; Major Barrett Dill, the Bermuda Housing Corporation general manager; Adrian Lodge, BHC IT assistant manager; Henry Campbell, Hustle Truck coordinator (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A pilot programme will teach IT skills to young men at risk of antisocial behaviour or lawbreaking, it was announced yesterday.

The Bermuda Technical Institute Association is behind the introduction of the scheme, which will benefit people involved in the Hustle Truck work programme.

It has teamed up with the Bermuda Housing Corporation to deliver Cisco Networking Academy courses that are already on offer in more than 170 countries.

Rick Richardson, the BTIA chairman, explained that the move came after “meaningful discussions” with Major Barrett Dill, the BHC general manager, with guidance and oversight from Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works.

He said: “Both bodies saw the need to enhance the work programme by offering educational opportunities to very capable young men.”

Mr Richardson added: “Essentially, we share the vision of the minister that the programme will give educational opportunities to unskilled young men, in most cases, who have not been able to find meaningful work and are likely to gravitate towards antisocial behaviour or activity that will cause them to run afoul of the law.

“We think this pilot programme goes beyond the discussion point, it offers something tangible.”

He hoped the internationally recognised study course would “motivate and educate a growing pool of unemployable youths”.

There are no prerequisites for the initial IT Essentials module, which provides basic computer and career skills for entry-level IT jobs.

Students will learn to set up and troubleshoot computers and software.

Mr Richardson explained that a Cisco Networking Academy designation was obtained by the BTIA and Colonel Burch permitted structural changes needed to facilitate the training of instructors and workers in the Hustle Truck programme.

He said the scheme would be run under Llewellyn Trott, the director of BTIA’s technical education programme and a former dean of the Bermuda College Technical Division.

Colonel Burch explained that the Hustle — Helping the Unemployed Sustain Themselves with Limited Employment — Truck programme started in 2007 and provided services to the community assisting seniors, community groups, churches and others.

He said: “Thus far, the programme has employed over 1,000 unemployed Bermudians with temporary employment with many going on to secure full-time employment.

“The next step in the evolution of the Hustle Truck programme is to assist with technical-skills training, which will further assist them in securing full-time employment.

“By providing access to the Cisco Networking Academy, students will have hands-on training to gain valuable tools in this information technology age.”

The minister added: “Once this pilot programme concludes, we will look at expanding it to the eastern and western ends of the island.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the programme, in our view, is its success internationally to date, operating in more than 170 countries around the world.

“The programme is geared to each individual student’s competency level and pace of learning.”

Greg Skinner, a regional sales manager for technology company Cisco, said: “This is part of our corporate social responsibility to help countries bring up their level of technical expertise.

“As we start evolving into what we call digitisation, digital transformation, having this type of class, this type of education base is super important to be able to get to that level of digitisation, as well as to be able to maintain it.

“We’re very excited to be participating.”

Mr Skinner expected the first instructor training to start in the coming weeks.

He added: “The great thing about this is, anybody can participate, so we’re looking at some particular programmes now but this programme can be expanded into many other different places.”

Mr Skinner said cybersecurity was among the options that could be explored.