BRIDGE

Building capacity and Regional Integration for the Development of a Generation of Entrepreneurs

Sustainable Energy and Information and Communication Technologies

What is BRIDGE?

BRIDGE is a skills, education and knowledge transfer partnership project aimed at helping Caribbean regions get ready for a sustainable future, focusing in particular on up-skilling women.

BRIDGE skills and education programmes will help meet demand for technicians, professionals and entrepreneurs in the Sustainable Energy and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sectors by investing in gender equality and innovation.

ECCI is one of the major Scottish partners including SDI, Skills Development Scotland and Energy Technology Partnership.

Where is BRIDGE?

Location: Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Potential for other Caribbean countries.

Partners: IDB, University of West Indies, General Electric (GE), Philips, ECCI (on behalf of team Scotland), New Zealand Government

Duration: 4 years from March 2013

Main activity:

a) Technical and professional capacity baseline analysis;

b) Capacity training and institutional strengthening;

c) Facilitating the academic and professional partnership between companies and trained individuals; and

d) Developing a SE and ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship platform.

The demand for energy in the Caribbean region is expected to increase by 3.2% annually in the next two decades.  Similarly, the mix of energy sources (which for the most part has been highly fossil fuel dependent) is likely to be diversified to include more RE sources.

With a growing demand for sustainable energy, it is expected that there will be a need for trained labour to fulfil the demand for experienced and skilled technicians, professionals and individuals at various levels, capable of designing, developing, installing, operating, advising, maintaining, and managing the aforementioned energy related systems.

The demand for sustainable energy in Caribbean economies is matched by the increasing demand for ICTs, mostly broadband connectivity, which is crucial for regional and global integration as well as for increasing competitiveness.[5]  While the energy sector has tended to be mostly male dominated in both Latin America and the Caribbean, the development of the growing SE sub-sector and ICT sector present a unique opportunity to foster a gender balanced new professional and technical cadre by encouraging both women and men to become trained and enter the labor force.  Increased participation of women in the SE and ICT sectors and improvement of their status relative to men can help to incorporate gender as an integral part of practices and help address the gender segregation and wage gaps that still exist in these areas of the labour market.[6]  For the Caribbean digitalization would represent significant gains[7] for the region’s economies.

The components of the Program will function as demonstrative activities to support needed changes in regulations/policies in SE and ICT.  In fact, the Energy Division is preparing Policy Based Loans (PBLs) that are aligned with what is being proposed in the BRIDGE TC.  In addition, given the goal of linking trained individuals with the industry and potential employers, various institutions (i.e., General Electricand Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation) partnering with the IDB in providing training opportunities related to the BRIDGE Program.

The Program will be carried in close coordination with the University of the West Indies (UWI).  Given its experience in regional coordination through its campuses and contributing countries, UWI will be an active participant and contributor to the Program.  UWI is an autonomous regional institution supported by and serving 17 English-speaking countries and territories in the Caribbean.  The University is located in three countries (Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados) and has a Centre for Hotel and Tourism Management in The Bahamas.  UWI has over 800 programs, including some environmental science, energy, ICT, and engineering programs.  Other universities such as University of Trinidad and Tobago have expressed interest in taking part in aspects of the Program.

Description of Activities and Outputs

Component 1.  Baseline analysis (disaggregating the information by gender per participating country to address possible gender based constraints), including: a) an assessment of technical and professional capacity for sustainable energy and ICT; b) the quantity and type of sustainable energy projects and broadband development plans that the countries would expect to implement in the coming decade; c) estimation of the number of professionals and technicians needed to sustain a diversified energy growth and penetration of ICT in the private sector; d) a list of firms and institutions working on SE and ICT; e) a list of competencies that firms are lacking from professionals and technicians; and f) assessment of future needs of human resources and technical services arising out of evolving technologies. 

Component 2.  Capacity building and institutional strengthening (assessment on the institutional strengthening needs of participating institutions and provide capacity training for professionals, students and teachers).  Outcomes will include 50% or more of female beneficiaries.  Based on the analysis performed in Component 1, the capacity training program will be designed to enhance the participation of women and men in the program, including quotas or incentives. Subcomponents include: a) analyze specific curriculum changes and investment needs that may be required in order to get these institutions ready for the demand for SE and ITC trained individuals; b) train technical and university teachers in SE and ICT; c) train students; and d) facilitate national and regional field visits.

Component 3.  Academic and professional partnership (enabling environment to allow students to carryout part of their studies in national, regional, or international firms/laboratories, through internship assignments).  Component 3 is designed to enhance the participation of females (50%) and males in the program using quotas or incentives.  Component 3 will include events that will assist students and firms/laboratories to be partnered in internships or jobs and a provision of a small stipend which will make it possible for the students to conduct their internships. Component 3 also includes workshops/events to facilitate the partnerships.

Component 4.  ICT Innovation Platform (foster ICT and SE innovation and entrepreneurship in order to help grow the base of firms that supply innovative SE and ICT-based services and solutions for the Caribbean private sector, to eventually lead to job creation).  Component 4 will support the development of a challenge-driven innovation[8] program which will provide the space for identifying entrepreneurial opportunities for developing ICT and SE solutions under an open innovation context at the national and regional level.  Component 4 includes designing and implementing a training program on entrepreneurship, challenge-driven innovation, crowdsourcing and crowd-funding and a related virtual platform.  The platform aims to be sensitive to gender concerns – i.e., make training accessible to women and men, support gender balanced enterprises and social advancement.

Scotland’s Response

The Project Manager has now been recruited and appointed by the IDB (April 2014) and will lead with the project which started in March 2013.  “Team Scotland” led by ECCI believe that the Project Manager in conjunction with IDB consultants will carry out the base line analysis driven from a country level. “Team Scotland” are encouraging the Project Manager to visit Scotland, early in 2015, for a two week, intensive, training programme and to meet with all the potential partners.

ECCI have provided a letter of intent for the BRIDGE project building on the MOU signed between SDI and the IDB Team Scotland estimating that this proposal could include approximately up to at £1million in in kind and direct cost support and SDI grant support  as a minimum to the Bridge project over an initial 24 month period of the project.  A review should be conducted at this stage between Team Scotland, IDB and local project partners regarding the next 18 months and type and level of involvement.

Key areas of support could include;

1.  Management and administration  of Scottish support service 

2.  Travel time and support delivery while working within the Caribbean 

3.  Hosting and supporting beneficiaries, stakeholders and project staff visiting Scotland 

4. Development and delivery of opportunities for internships in Scotland and reverse internships/training for Scottish organisations into the Caribbean 

5. Distance support services (telephone / online) to the project team and stakeholders

More info

Please contact lee.callaghan@ed.ac.uk for more information.