Thursday, September 28, 2023

$50 million to grow the economy through education

The 21st Century Techforce aims to graduate about 50,000 professionals with expertise in cybersecurity, data analysis, mobile applications and web development, among others, in the next 10 years.

A $50 million program, endorsed by Financial Supervision and Administration Board (FOMB, for its acronym in English) of the Fiscal Plan, seeks to reduce the technology gap that currently exists between what is taught in schools and universities and the needs of the business sector in Puerto Rico.

on a recorded conversation on the FOMB portal between the director of the FOMB Research and Public Policy division, Arnaldo Cruz, y Humberto Mercader, assistant secretary for strategic initiatives of Department of Economic Development (DDEC), shows that the 21st Century Techforce It aims to graduate about 50,000 professionals with expertise in cybersecurity, data analysis, mobile applications, web development, etc., in the next ten years.

“The funding was included in the Fiscal Plan of 2020 and arose from the investigation of the board, where we examined the various economic strategies of the destinations. One of those strategies is to have a competitive workforce with the necessary skills to compete in modern industry,” said Cruz.

When talking to academic and company figures, “a gap” was found between academic offers and industrial needs, which arose due to the acceleration of global changes, and educational institutions did not ‘y quick to adapt to. change.

The $50 million fund is not for direct investment but to serve as a catalyst for changes and not long ago the money began to be distributed, it is through PRopósito, a division of DDEC to establish a strategic framework in various sectors that are not easily affected by changes in public administration, explained Cruz and Mercader.

“I believe that the principle of that framework is to move the economy of Puerto Rico towards a global, knowledge-based economy,” said Mercader.

$50 Million To Grow The Economy Through Education

According to Mercader, the 21st Century Techforce program was designed after various analyses, such as in Puerto Rico that 50% of students who start a university do not finish their university degree, and that worldwide a 25% growth is expected in the area of ​​engineering and computer science, compared to others that only increased between 5 to 10%.

During the conversation they showed that in the current phase of the 21st Century Techforce there are three programs at the same time, aiming at different academic sectors.

According to Mercader, the first of these programs was aimed at universities, and after a selection process in which 13 universities participated, finally six were selected, the University of Puerto Rico, in its campuses in Mayagüez and Bayamón; THE Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico THE Sacred Heart University THE Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and the Ana G. Méndez University.

The second program focuses on Short Form Credentials institutions, of which there are currently few in Puerto Rico, so there are providers from the United States who want to participate. Here, of the 33 applicants, nine were selected to implement the program, said the local government official.

The third program is called K-12 Technology Lighthouse and it serves minors, for students between kindergarten and twelfth grade.

This initiative includes teacher training, creating a curriculum, preparing schools so that they have the necessary infrastructure and involving employers, although the desire is that they will not stop studying when they graduate from the twelfth grade, they explained.

So far it has started in nine schools. It is added that the need for these professionals is not only in Puerto Rico, but globally.

$50 Million To Grow The Economy Through Education
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