The Commonwealth Secretariat, in partnership with global digital skills provider Simplilearn, today releases over 2,000 free e-learning courses to young learners in the Caribbean, giving them access to crucial digital economy skills.
In total, the partnership will see 10,000 course places, worth $5 million, made available to young people in Commonwealth countries throughout 2023 – with phased launches set to come in Asia and Africa.
The online training, developed in conjunction with leading industry experts from IBM, Microsoft, Meta and others, includes courses in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, cybersecurity and software development. Each learner will receive a certificate upon completing the course.
Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said:
“It is a huge pleasure to announce the first lot of course places for the Caribbean – a region with a thriving and talented young population.
“The Covid-19 pandemic, and the associated economic fallout, has hastened the rise of the digital economy. This is creating new economic pathways, livelihoods and job opportunities which support inclusive and sustainable development across the world. But there is a risk that a lack of digital readiness and skills caused by the digital divide could leave the Commonwealth’s young people behind.
“This partnership and commitment to provide 10,000 e-learning scholarships worth $5 million will make a huge difference to young people’s job prospects, giving them the skills and confidence needed to thrive in an increasingly digital-focused job market.”
Mr. Krishna Kumar, Founder & CEO, Simplilearn, said:
“With digital and technological landscape shifts world over, the need for professionals to become equipped with the latest digital economy skills continues to increase.
“As the world’s largest digital economy skills training provider, it has been our endeavour to bring quality upskilling to all and bridge the talent gap globally.”
From today, and with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat, 200 Simplilearn course slots will each be given to learners in Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and The Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago for a total of 2,400 across the Caribbean.
The courses aim to equip leaners with the skills needed to excel in an increasingly digital-focused and interconnected labour market, or as entrepreneurs able to interact with the global digital economy.
According to the World Economic Forum, rapid advances in artificial intelligence, robotics and other emerging technologies are happening in shorter cycles, changing the nature of jobs – as well as the skills needed to do them.
Demand for digital skills already outstrips the supply of available talent, despite high levels of youth unemployment. Approximately 60% of the unemployed in Commonwealth countries are young people.
The partnership was announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda in June and forms part of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s work on supporting member countries innovation ambitions and the accessing of affordable digital infrastructure to narrow the digital divide.
At CHOGM, Heads acknowledged the transformative impact of technologies on education and committed to addressing the digital divide and the digital skills gap, with particular attention to supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, through appropriate access to technology and enhanced teacher capacity.
It followed the 21st Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Nairobi, Kenya in April.
The conference saw education ministers commit to building resilient education systems that can withstand future threats and disruptions and improved access to digital connectivity to better support teaching and learning. They pledged to harness partnerships with the private sector and to empower children and young people to shape the digital transformation of education in the Commonwealth.
Youth ministers from across the Commonwealth will come together to discuss upskilling young people and solutions to unemployment – among other youth issues – in Pakistan in January for the 10th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting.
- Amy Coles Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat