• Feature
    International Monetary Fund (IF) Resident Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Constant Lonkeng Ngouana (right), emphasises a point during conversation with (from left) Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) President, David Wan; Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) Deputy Director General, Leesha Delatie-Budair; and STATIN Director General, Carol Coy. Occasion was a recent STATIN quarterly briefing at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
    Photo: Dave Reid

    Story Highlights

    • The heads of two private-sector bodies are proposing measures to further boost the Government’s job creation thrust and drive down unemployment, which reached a record low of 7.8 per cent at April 2019.
    • Newly elected President of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (JMEA), Richard Pandohie, says that the measures, which could generate higher levels of economic growth, involve increasing training to fill the demand for high-level skills in engineering, the global services industry, among other areas.
    • He says there is a shortage of qualified professionals to fill the increasing number of “value-added” jobs being created.

    The heads of two private-sector bodies are proposing measures to further boost the Government’s job creation thrust and drive down unemployment, which reached a record low of 7.8 per cent at April 2019.

    Newly elected President of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (JMEA), Richard Pandohie, says that the measures, which could generate higher levels of economic growth, involve increasing training to fill the demand for high-level skills in engineering, the global services industry, among other areas.

    He says there is a shortage of qualified professionals to fill the increasing number of “value-added” jobs being created.

    “When you speak to stakeholders across various sectors, [they tell you that] there are gaps,” he tells JIS News.

    Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (JMEA) President, Richard Pandhoie.

     

    “That is something that we have to work really hard on to make sure that Jamaicans benefit,” he says, citing the importance of public-private partnerships in this regard.

    Already, the HEART Trust/NTA is increasing its collaboration with employers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector in order to design programmes to meet the industry’s employment and training needs.

    This is in keeping with a directive from Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, for the agency to intensify training for the global information technology-enabled services industry.

    “We want to make sure we have the training and certification aligned,” Senior Director of Corporate Planning and Strategic Development at the agency, Nicole Manning, told BPO managers at a job fair in Montego Bay last year.

    “We want to make sure that where you would have seen your gaps, for you to tell us so that we can close those gaps. What we want to do is to ensure that your business is efficient… as it will mean that you will get more business and if you get more business, then it will mean that you are employing more persons,” she added.

    Ms. Manning said that the Government is looking at the BPO sector to spur growth in gross domestic product (GDP).

    “A big contributor to this (growth) is employment… . Jamaica, actually, is seeing the returns in the BPO industry,” she noted.

    Mr. Pandohie further tells JIS News that boosting the requisite inputs to strengthen growth within the manufacturing/productive and export sectors will serve as a fillip for generating higher employment.

    “This is how you’re going to break poverty and create real changes in the lives of families,” he adds.

    Meanwhile, Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) President, David Wan, argues that increased access to credit, particularly by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), will serve to generate higher employment and reduce unemployment.

    As such, he is welcoming the recent launch of an initiative by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) to help MSMEs get easier access to loans.

    The initiative involves collaboration with the Jamaica Bankers Association, the MSME Alliance, and several other stakeholders.

    Mr. Wan says the engagement is a “big shift” and an indication that the banking sector is “open for business for the small and medium-sized enterprise”.

    He further cites as pivotal the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) funding for MSMEs.

    Mr. Wan says he is optimistic about the impact of these and other interventions in generating higher economic growth.

    “There’s a lot being talked about and a lot is being done. It’s commendable that they are trying to get more funds and capital into the MSME sector,” he adds.

    Meanwhile, the unemployment out-turn for April is two percentage points lower than the 9.8 per cent recorded for the corresponding period last year, and 0.2 per cent below the January 2019 out-turn.

    Statistical Institute of Jamaica’s (STATIN) Director General, Carol Coy, who revealed the April 2019 Labour Force Survey recently, indicated that the number of unemployed persons fell by 25,900, or 19.7 per cent, to 105,900 relative to April 2018.

    Correspondingly, the overall employed labour force increased by 29,900 persons or 2.5 per cent to 1,244,500, with the total labour force rising to 1,349,900 persons, some 4,000 more than 2018.

    The reduction in unemployment has been hailed by International Monetary Fund (IMF) Resident Representative, Dr. Constant Lonkeng Ngouana, as a “tremendous achievement”.

    He contends that reducing the rate, which stood at approximately 16.3 per cent at the start of Jamaica’s current engagement with the IMF in May 2013, by more than 50 per cent is “very significant”.