Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 12, 2016 (SKNIS)—Keynote Speaker at the Prime Minister’s Independence 33 Lecture Series held at the Nevis Performing Arts Center (NEPAC) on September 12, Deloitte’s Larry Quinlan, underscored the importance of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education in a world where technology has become a driving force.

“There is data-driven evidence that STEM education supports economic growth and fills critical skills gap,” Mr. Quinlan said.

Mr. Quinlan, a national of St. Kitts and Nevis (his mother is Nevisian and his father is Kittitian), has worked at Deloitte since 1988 in several key positions and has ascended the corporate ladder to hold the position of Global Chief Information Officer in the multinational professional services firm headquartered in New York City.

Speaking to an audience comprised of high school and sixth form college students to high ranking government officials, Mr. Quinlan said that the Caribbean and Latin America need to do more to prepare the next generation for “a technology enabled life” where educational institutions must do more to encourage students to pursue technology courses.

He praised St. Kitts and Nevis for having 80 percent internet penetration rate as reported by International Telecommunications Union in 2014. This, he said, far surpassed many countries worldwide in what he dubbed an “enviable advantage.” However, Mr. Quinlan threw out the challenge that we must not only know how to use computers, but go on to become the software and hardware computer engineers and programmers.

“Now, we must prepare a new generation not just how to use computers but how to programme them and build them and network them and analyze them. We must convince our children that technology is an attractive profession and banish the notion that girls don’t like Math or computers. We should promote the vision of technology careers as a truly desirable profession,” he said.

“Children are not always attracted to computer science or technology as a field of study,” he said, but we must remind our students that technology is an “attractive path” and a path that can lead to economic success.

“Partnerships between educational institutions and business and country leaders are key to a sustained talent pipeline. The business world is constantly looking for key technology skills in the next generation of leaders and often there is a skills gap between what our students are prepared to contribute to the workforce and what is actually needed,” said Mr. Quinlan.

Mr. Quinlan is responsible for all facets of technology at Deloitte, from strategy and applications to infrastructure and innovation.

“We spend over a billion and a half US dollars on technology in our organization and that organization spans over a hundred countries, including several in the Caribbean,” said Mr. Quinlan, while highlighting that although he worries about technology in “our developed markets including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada…his role also provides him “with the perspective on the contribution that technology can make in regions where we operate including Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.”

In attendance were several government officials and dignitaries including Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Premier of Nevis, Honourable Vance Amory, His Excellency the Governor General Sir Tapley Seaton, Dr. the Right Excellent and the Right Honourable Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds, Members of the Federal Cabinet and Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Department from the Federation.

It is the first time in the 18 year history of the Prime Minister’s Independence Lecture Series that it was ever held in Nevis.