Economies around the world, including Jamaica, have been faced with one common difficulty, how to find job creation opportunities for their people.
Since taking office on January 5, 2012, the Government of Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller has continuously stated that job creation remains a primary focus.
It was for this reason why the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) was launched on March 22, to find a way to create jobs for Jamaicans. The programme has targetted some 30,000 persons over the 2012/14 financial years, to be employed in such areas as patching, drain cleaning, gully repair, bushing, river training and retaining wall and curb repair.
Another area which holds potential for creating jobs is the solid waste industry, as enunciated by Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Jennifer Edwards.
Making a presentation at a recent workshop at the University of Technology (UTech) on ‘Entrepreneurship: The Solid Waste Opportunity’, she points out that there are several opportunities just waiting to be taken up.
“In the one month since I’ve been in office, I’ve received 12 proposals for waste to energy. That is only a fraction of what has been received in the various entities across government. There are so many ideas as to what can be done with the waste that we have,” she says.
“Sweeping, picking up and collecting garbage is a billion dollar industry for the NSWMA. We spend some $1.2 to $1.3 billion per year to do that. Most of that is done by the private sector, employing many persons…and we will be going to tender soon for them to provide some services in those areas,” she adds.
Ms. Edwards points to the management of vehicles in the fleet as another area ripe for entrepreneurship. The NSWMA, she states, owns 183 vehicles, some 124 of which are tippers and compactors and these have to be managed. She adds that at no time more than 68 of those 124 compactors are in use, because they are down for simple or complex reasons.
“So, we need garage services and good mechanics who can fix the vehicle, so that when it’s put on the road, it doesn’t go down,” she says.
On the matter of the provision of skips (huge metal garbage receptacles), the NSWMA Head states that there are opportunities for good welders to provide that service. “We spend a lot of money building skips,” she notes.
Ms. Edwards also mentions job opportunities in the areas of tyre repair and auto electrical services.
On the waste to energy initiative, Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Julian Robinson, points to the huge amount of waste generated annually on the largest of the eight waste disposal sites in the country, the 100-acre Riverton Landfill.
He points out that there are opportunities for private persons to invest in converting waste to energy, which could be put on the grid. He also cites the employment opportunities that would result from such investments.
The Riverton Landfill is also home to several micro entrepreneurial enterprises, including the gathering of plastic bottles by many persons, which are then sold for recycling.
There are also those who recover cardboard boxes and paper of all types; glass bottles, copper wire, scrap metal and electronic waste. All these activities generate an income for a person, which has a ripple effect on the economy.