Industry, Investment, and Commerce, Hon Anthony Hylton, says Jamaica’s workforce must be prepared for the projected expansion in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT)/Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), and other related sectors, as Jamaica grows as a service economy.
Speaking at the official opening of BPO firm, the Elephant Group’s expanded facilities in the Montego Bay Free Zone on May 2, Mr. Hylton said Jamaica has already demonstrated its ability to be a world-leading outsourcing destination with the successful rise of the BPO sector over the last decade.
He noted that ICT has generated more foreign investments and inflows than any other industry for the past two years, with room for expansion into higher level services.
“(However) as Jamaica readies itself to become a major player in the global trading network through the creation of a global logistics hub and logistics centred economy, we must ensure that the local work force is trained and ready to take up the thousands of jobs which will be created in the ICT/BPO sector and other sectors,” Minister Hylton said.
Achieving this goal, he contended, requires collaboration across Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). As such, he said the government will be working with HEART Trust/NTA to customize training initiatives delivered through it academies, as well as through the Career Advancement Programme for secondary school graduates, and the recently launched Apprenticeship Programme.
“In addition, all tertiary institutions are in the process of revising their curricula, to include logistics-based courses,” Minister Hylton said, adding that is to prevent the ‘Dubai model’s’ occurrence in Jamaica.
Dubai has had to import 70 percent of its labour force to meet the demands of its global logistics hub operations.
Mr. Hylton lauded the Montego Bay Free Zone for its pivotal role in the growth, development, and promotion of Jamaica as an attractive near-shore investment destination.
“Indeed, the Montego Bay Free Zone has been instrumental in Jamaica positioning itself as a leading destination for near-shore contact centre operations in Jamaica, and moreso in western Jamaica,” he stated.
The Minister also commended Jamaica promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) for its role in increasing Jamaica’s mindshare and visibility within the global outsourcing community. This, he said, as the agency continues to deliver on its objectives to build brand awareness of Jamaica outside of the stereotype of sun, sand, sea, music, and athletics.
American firm, the Elephant Group, has invested nearly $77 million (US$700,000) to increase its 24,000 sq. ft of operational space in the Montego Bay Free Zone, thereby creating 600 new employment opportunities.
The project was financed through an arrangement involving the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ), which owns the building where the Elephant Group’s operations are housed.
This arrangement entailed the firm undertaking project financing in exchange for concessionary rental from the FCJ, over a period, to recover the expenditure.
By Sharon Earle