Guyana/Canada partnership: One Guyana Digital to train 2,000 as full-stack developers


By Neil Marks

Guyana and Canada launched a transformative programme on Sunday afternoon to train 2,000 Guyanese to become full-stack developers – or persons who can build and maintain both the front-end and the back-end of a website -and ensure they have high-paying jobs afterwards.

Canada is putting CA$9.5 million into the initiative and Guyana is footing the rest of the bill. President Irfaan Ali said the full cost of the initiative is G$4 billion.

The front end (the parts of a website a user sees and interacts with) and the back end (the behind-the-scenes data storage and processing) require different skill sets. Graduates of the programme will be qualified to competently perform the duties of a full-stack developer, including PHP programming, Java Script programming, mobile application, python programming, website security and website front-end programming.

The programme is called One Guyana Digital and was launched at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Turkeyen, Georgetown. It will be run by the hugely successful Guyana Online Academy (GOAL) and the Toronto Metropolitan University. The Chief Executive Officer of One Guyana Digital is Mark Etwaroo, a Canada-based Guyanese, who worked with the university to develop the module for the programme.

He said tuition for the programme is valued at CA$10,000. Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s visiting Minister of International Development, hailed the initiative, recognising the goal to ensure the participation of women and indigenous peoples.

Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of International Development arrives at the Arthur Chung Conference and is greeted by Ministers Sonia Parag and Dr Ashni Singh. (Shatanand Anude/News Room photo)

President Ali said 60 per cent of those who have already signed up are women and 20 per cent are indigenous people. Through partnerships with companies and organisations employing full-stack developers, One Guyana Digital promises to provide an effective employment channel for graduates, with the lowest paying being CA$25,000, Etwaroo said.

But because Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be used to create codes, he said participants will be taught multiple skills and could qualify for high-paying jobs. President Ali said that while graduates would be able to work from home in their beds, the government intends to build “beautiful buildings” so that graduates can “go to work” because the culture of work cannot be replaced.

He said Guyana’s Local Content law will have to ensure that international companies operating in Guyana offer Guyanese opportunities for work to the graduates instead of outsourcing those jobs to people in other countries. Students will be given a laptop. They will be able to join LIVE classes with the Toronto Metropolitan University and they will also be able to learn offline.

President Dr Irfaan Ali arrives for the launch of One Guyana Digital at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre and is greeted by Dr Ashni Singh, Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance and Public Service. (Shatanand Anude/News Room photo)

What will graduates be able to do?

  • Construct fully functional websites and mobile applications, from end-to-end, by using various languages and tools
  • Front-end development and production: create and customize responsive web pages using a variety of languages (SQL, JavaScript) and full stack developers’ tools (Git, GitHub, Unix Shell)
  • Back-end development and deployment: design a dynamic database/data store for retrieval of data using SQL and embed SQL statements in Python code that supports the middleware

The programme starts on May 24, 2024, and will last for eight months. The first cohort will consist of 500 students. Other cohorts will start classes on June 14 and September 14, 2024.

Dr Ashni Singh, Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance and Public Service, noted that while Guyanese are already engaged in telemarking and tele-transcription jobs, One Guyana Digital allows for a “completely new level” of training that will provide near-sourcing jobs.

Dr Singh said as Guyana transforms physically, the One Guyana Digital initiative represents the transformation that cannot be seen and forms part of creating new sectors that will bring in high-paying jobs for Guyanese.

President Ali praised Minister Hussen for his work in ensuring the initiative was realised, saying it was the fastest any international programme has moved from conceptualisation to realisation.

The President pointed to the initiative as a celebration of the “tremendous relationship” between Guyana and Canada and he singled out Hussen for “commitment, speed of action, his focus” and for sticking to his word when he promised him that “we can do it.”

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