Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Aerotel inspires young Jamaican to stay home and help build economy

Published:Tuesday | December 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Aerotel’s General Manager Howard Armstrong (left); Aerotel’s board Chairman Marc Ramsay (second left); and dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computing, Professor Nilza Aples (right), pose alongside the Aerotel Scholasrhip awardee 2018-2020, Navion Plummer, after he was presented with a cheque to symbolise the company’s commitment to his career development.

University of Technology (UTech) engineering student Navion Plummer accepts that the domestic work environment is not the most attractive, but believes he serves as an inspiration for young people to stay home and help improve the economy.

Plummer, who will embark on his third year of studies at UTech next year, told The Gleaner yesterday that like many Jamaicans, he would have opted to migrate in order to study abroad because of financial constraints and a lack of work opportunities locally. However, he is grateful that Aerotel Limited has intervened, offering to pay his tuition fees for the remaining two years at UTech. The conditional arrangement dictates that Plummer work as an intern with the company during holidays, as well as take up an engineering job there after university.

He is of the view that once young people are given opportunities locally, along with attractive salary packages when they complete tertiary studies, Jamaica will be able to retain its youngest and brightest.

"I noticed the brain drain reality from I was in high school at Knox. There is no employment to keep the youth here. It is not only about employment opportunities, but also the thought of spending years in school and then to be underpaid [that bothers youth].

"This collaboration with Aerotel means a lot. Beginning UTech, I had no idea I would have made it this far. I was getting by on faith. Students' Loan Bureau has been helpful, but it is really hectic finding guarantors. They have changed my life in a big way," Plummer declared.

Aerotel is a telecom-munications company owned by the Government and is responsible for air traffic control.

Marc Ramsay, Aerotel's chairman, said yesterday that overall efforts are being made create an attractive environment for brilliant young Jamaicans to remain on the island.

"For Aerotel, we need well trained engineers. There are bright people like Navion in Jamaica and they need opportunities. These people can go on to start the next Google or software consulting and engineering company. Other companies that practise a similar scholarship model should keep doing it and expand it."

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com