HEART/NTA Chairman Allister Cooke (right) and Robert Gregory, executive director. -Junior Dowie
Mayer Matalon, Gleaner Writer
THE HEART Trust/National Training Agency recently signed a new and expanded Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with international computer firm Cisco, which will allow HEART to roll out several new Cisco training programmes between October 2004 and September 2005.
The new courses include IT Essentials, Wireless Technology, Network Security and the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP).
Under the agreement, which was signed recently in Florida, HEART will continue to be a Cisco Regional Network Academy, offering the prestigious Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) designation.
The MoU was signed by Alister Cooke, chairman of the HEART Trust/NTA, and Robert Gregory, executive director; Thomas Moffses, director of the Cisco Academy Training Centre in North Florida, and Luis Cardenas, Cisco's area account manager. The signing was witnessed by Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell, Jackie Barker, Cisco's Field quality assurance manager, and Samuel Bowen, managing director of the Caribbean Institute of Technology.
Minister Paulwell hailed the MoU as another important milestone for Jamaica's information and communications technology (ICT) sector. He noted that the Cisco certification would position those with the requisite qualification for jobs as Network Engineers and Administrators to work in Jamaica's growing telecommunications industry, as well as to take advantage of opportunities on the world stage.
Since the inception of the Cisco training programme, three years ago the HEART Trust has facilitated the opening of three local academies responsible for the actual education of Cisco trainees. There is one in Stony Hill, one at the Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI), and one at the Caribbean Institute of Technology in Montego Bay. Sites that have come on board in recent times are the Kenilworth HEART Academy, the Rockfort Vocational Training Centre, the Knox, Brown's Town and Montego Bay Community Colleges, and the Moneague College.
The Gleaner spoke recently with two Cisco trainees currently undergoing certification at the Stony Hill HEART Academy. "I joined the programme because I want to gain further understanding of networking and I wish to earn a graduate degree in networking in the future," said Ms. Annishka White, a 21-year-old instructor in computing and business studies.
" Cisco is one of my 'stepping stones' along the way to that goal. It is a good course and gives us a good range of knowledge in both theory and practical."
Twenty-one-year-old Daniel Clarke, an employee of Allied Cable Vision, said: "I joined because my aim in life is to become a telecommunications engineer. Also, my company is becoming an Internet Service Provider in the near future and I have been selected to maintain the network once it is put in place. I came so I could become certified to do so."
The Cisco certification programme focuses mainly on computer networking. Trainees access lessons and evaluations through the Internet with instructors nearby to act as facilitators. The programme is offered on a part-time programme basis and the length varies from two weeks to approximately one year.
Until March of this year 319 trainees have been enrolled in the CCNA programme. Trainees are aged 17 years and over, with the average age being 25.