PHILIPSBURG – With St. Maarten still feeling the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF), supported by the Ministry of Finance, is continuing to strengthen national recovery efforts by offering residents access to new educational opportunities.
A follow up to SMDF’s successful Workforce Development Program, Learn SMART, an acronym for St. Maarten Active Recovery & Training Program, is partnering with online learning platform Coursera to provide access to courses from leading university and industry educators around the world including Yale University, the University of Michigan, IBM, and Microsoft. With its wide array of learning tracks, Learn SMART will equip learners with valuable tools and knowledge that will provide them with opportunities to excel in global online–as well as in local offline—careers. Last year’s three-month pilot Workforce Development Program saw over 1,200 requests to participate with hundreds of people completing courses. After the program ended, SMDF received an outpouring of positive feedback and requests to have the program extended which is now being realized via Learn SMART.
With the support of the Ministry of Finance, SMDF is expanding its efforts to support socioeconomic growth in an innovative way. With the program being completely online, learners will be delving into themes such as entrepreneurship, customer relations, and business administration among others over a two-year period.
“The people of St. Maarten showed their appetite for knowledge last year by signing up in overwhelming numbers and more importantly the high rate of course completions show the value in this program.” said Minister Ardwell Irion. “It’s an honor to have this program continue through the work Workforce development Program with the support of the SMDF.”
“The pandemic has significantly impacted St. Maarten’s tourism and service sector, leaving thousands unemployed,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO. “We’re honored to partner with the Government of St. Maarten to launch a nationwide training program to help displaced workers develop high-demand business and digital skills needed to regain employment in the new economy.”
“Access and opportunity are two of life’s biggest success factors,” said Makhicia Brooks, SMDF Managing Director. “Through the Learn SMART program we hope to open doors to new possibilities for professional advancement across St. Maarten.”
Additionally, as the world continues to shift towards technology, the Learn SMART initiative will also offer free scholarships to Google entry-level Professional Certificates on Coursera. These certificates, in the fields of Project Management, Data Analytics, IT Support, and UX Design, will create pathways for residents to work in technology areas of the future.
With Learn SMART launching on November 15, SMDF has opened its online application portal to prospective learners. Applicants must be 18 years or older and must provide proof of residency on St. Maarten via utility bill, bank statement, pay slip or Census registration form. The online application along with the required supplemental documentation is available at smdf.sx/learnsmart. For anyone interested in learning more about the program, they can contact SMDF via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn SMART is an initiative launched and executed by SMDF in close collaboration with the Government of St. Maarten and one of the world’s leading online learning platforms, Coursera.