NYC hosts mobile app development workshop

The Royal St Lucian Hotel was the location for the first ever mobile application development workshop, presented by the National Youth Council (NYC) in collaboration with local NGO, Sure Foundation and facilitated by international experts from the BrightPath Foundation. The initiative targeted at-risk and unemployed youth and according to organizers, is expected to open a world of new possibilities youth in St Lucia.
Forty young people were part of this week’s proceedings and the professional, yet laid back atmosphere made it a conducive environment for participants to ask questions and engage in riveting conversation in an effort to learn as much as possible throughout the three-day workshop.
One of the challenges brought forth by participants at the beginning of the workshop was the lack of quality products and services from local mobile providers.                 According to National Youth Council president Jonathan Chalon, young people could be given the skills to develop applications for mobile phones but those skills would not hold as much weight if the environment for them to upload those applications did not exist.
“If they do upload it, then it’s very weak,” Chalon said. “The NYC would like to take the opportunity to continue to urge and get our mobile providers to provide better products and services to young persons. Young people are the biggest consumers of their products and services so they need to create the environment for young people to gain employment, create businesses and create jobs. We would really like to see an improvement from our mobile providers.”
Kirt Hosam, Executive Director of SURE Foundation, commented that all-round development of youth was a particular focus of the program. Hosam felt social skills training in leadership, ethics and problem solving was essential to holistic human development, and said the “BrightPath program contained all those elements and was best suited to the St Lucia context.”
The mobile app development course was created by Bevil Wooding, founder and Executive Director of BrightPath Foundation.
In his words: “Our digital content creation programs are specially tailored to the Caribbean environment. Each course is designed to provide our young people with the ability to unleash their creativity using available technology.”
In his keynote address at the workshop’s opening ceremony, Wooding’s message was that access to the Internet on mobile devices presents new opportunities for development in the Caribbean. He also elaborated on some challenges, however.
“There are conditions in the local environment that need to change in order for the mobile app opportunities to be seized. Several countries in the region boast of having greater than 100 per cent mobile penetration, or more than one mobile handset per person. Yet many markets do not have the high-speed mobile Internet access necessary to build a robust mobile content and application services industry.”
The Caribbean has the capacity to develop mobile apps that meet local needs and create new global opportunities, Wooding said.  BrightPath’s mobile app training workshops have been held in Antigua and Barbuda as well as St Kitts and Nevis. The Foundation will be hosting similar events in Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Mobile applications, also called apps, are software programs specially designed to run on mobile phones.                 According to the latest data from US research firm Nielsen, apps are popular even among users who are still using lower end mobile phones.
NYC President Jonathan Chalon described mobile apps as “the next wave of the mobile revolution” and explained why his organization is partnering with the international non-profit Congress WBN, through its Trinidad and Tobago based BrightPath Foundation, to introduce the BrightPath Mobile App Development programme in St Lucia.
By the end of the three day workshop, that ran from April 11-14 the NYC president said participants should have been able to set up at least two applications, which had the potential to aid them in perhaps setting up their own businesses, building from there and even looking to sell and provide their applications to local mobile providers.
In the words of Miguel Trim, a workshop participant: “I think this was a very good initiative by the National Youth Council. The formation that has been provided so far has broadened my knowledge on mobile applications and the infrastructure behind it as well.”

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