Feature
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (second left seated), listens keenly to a question from a youngster at a town hall meeting held at the Closed Harbour Beach Park in Montego Bay, St. James. Looking on (from left) are National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang; Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte; and Chairman of the Urban Development Corporation, Senator Ransford Braham.
Photo: Contributed

Story Highlights

  • The Government continued its quest to provide job opportunities for more Jamaicans, with increased focus on training persons, particularly for higher-end activities and high-value positions.
  • This contributed to the country’s unemployment rate falling to a new record low of 8.4 per cent – the lowest in 50 years.
  • Record low unemployment • According to data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) Labour Force Survey for July 2018, the number of unemployed persons declined by 27.7 per cent to 111,800. • This out-turn is 2.9 percentage points lower than the rate of 11.3 per cent for July 2017. • The unemployment rate among youth, aged 14 to 24, decreased by 5.3 per cent to 22.2 per cent, relative to the 27.5 per cent out-turn recorded in July 2017. • The overall number of persons who are in jobs rose to 1,226,400 as at July 2018, representing an increase of 12,800 persons. • The total labour force stood at 1,338,200 persons as at July 2018.

The Government continued its quest to provide job opportunities for more Jamaicans, with increased focus on training persons, particularly for higher-end activities and high-value positions.

This contributed to the country’s unemployment rate falling to a new record low of 8.4 per cent – the lowest in 50 years.

Record low unemployment
• According to data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) Labour Force Survey for July 2018, the number of unemployed persons declined by 27.7 per cent to 111,800.
• This out-turn is 2.9 percentage points lower than the rate of 11.3 per cent for July 2017.
• The unemployment rate among youth, aged 14 to 24, decreased by 5.3 per cent to 22.2 per cent, relative to the 27.5 per cent out-turn recorded in July 2017.
• The overall number of persons who are in jobs rose to 1,226,400 as at July 2018, representing an increase of 12,800 persons.
• The total labour force stood at 1,338,200 persons as at July 2018.

Jamaicans were employed in various sectors.

 

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Sector
• Much of the employment opportunities were created in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector as the Government continued to target the sector as a key part of its economic growth and job creation thrust.
• The BPO industry, which has the highest employment growth rate of any sector over the last decade, now employs more than 32,500 persons.
• Joint venture agreements were approved by Cabinet to develop the Naggo Head Technology Park in Portmore, St. Catherine, and the Morant Bay Urban Centre in St. Thomas over a two-year period. The agreements, which are between Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ) and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Limited, will see the provision of 830,000 square feet of BPO space. Development of the technology parks are a response to the growing demand for BPO office space. The parks are expected to provide 23,000 additional jobs.
• Jamaica staged the inaugural Outsource2Jamaica Symposium and Exposition, which provided a platform to raise the profile of Jamaica as a BPO destination.

The event, which involved partnership with the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and JAMPRO, brought together global experts, technocrats, local entrepreneurs, government officials, BPO leaders, buyers and service providers.

Training and employment opportunities for young persons
• More than 12,000 young persons were engaged in training and apprenticeship activities under the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme from April to October.
• This engagement involved partnerships with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and Department of Correctional Services (DCS), which saw unattached youth being interned at police stations and DCS offices. They assisted with digitisation of records, filing and other activities.
• The first cohort of the HOPE Design and Apparel Manufacturing Corps group graduated with Garment Assembler Level 1 certificates from the HEART Trust/NTA Garmex Academy after 14 months of training.
• The first batch of privates under HOPE’s Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC) programme received their certificates after successfully completing one year of service. Six privates, who were outstanding in performance, are currently in Canada receiving training under an accelerated programme to become commissioned officers.

Graduates from the first cohort of the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment’s (HOPE) Design and Apparel Manufacturing Corps group celebrate after receiving their certificates in August at HEART Trust/NTA Garmex Academy, on Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston.

 

Other training programmes
• Fifty animation instructors from training institutions across the island upgraded their skills under the Government’s Youth Employment in the Digital and Animation Industries (YEDAI) Project. This was done under the ‘Train The Trainers’ component of the project, which was executed by the Office of the Prime Minister.
• The Red Hills Skills Training Centre in St. Andrew was renovated at a cost of $3 million to offer unattached youth four skill-based courses through partnership with the HEART Trust/NTA.
• Approximately 60 engineering graduates are benefiting from skills upgrading in China. The graduates, from the University of the West Indies (UWI), University of Technology (UTech) and Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) were sent to China in March on a one-year engineering course.

More Housing Solutions
• The Government handed over 436 housing solutions/serviced lots through the National Housing Trust (NHT) and the Housing Agency of Jamaica Limited (HAJ) in Longville, Clarendon; Granville, Trelawny; Boscobel, St. Mary;
Luana, St. Elizabeth; Whitehall, Westmoreland; and Belair, St. Ann.
• Ground was broken for almost 800 housing solutions/serviced lots in Windsor, Trelawny; Industry Cove, Hanover; Jacksonville, Clarendon; Maxfield Park, St. Andrew; and Friendship, St. Elizabeth. These are to be developed by the NHT.
• The Housing Agency of Jamaica handed over 218 Certificates of Title to land owners across the island.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, joins happy homeowners after handing over keys to the Castlewood development in Granville, Trelawny, in October.

 

Houses of Parliament design competition
• The Houses of Parliament Design Competition was launched, which gives registered Jamaican architects locally and in the Diaspora the opportunity to win up to $7 million.
• The top five entrants advancing to the second stage of the competition received a total of $10 million. The leading teams, chosen from 24 submissions by 178 persons, were each awarded $2 million.

The overall winner, who will receive an additional $5 million, will be announced in February 2019.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness signs a commemorative board for the Houses of Parliament Design Competition, during the official launch at the National Heroes Park in downtown Kingston. Looking on are Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang; and Member of Parliament for Southern Trelawny, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, who are members of the competition’s Bipartisan Parliamentary Oversight Committee.

 

Action 2018
• Town Hall meetings were held to discuss the Government Circle Development Project in Kingston (National Heroes Circle); and the proposed Closed Harbour ‘Dump-up’ Beach in Montego Bay, St. James, among other issues.
Keeping the Nation Secure
• The Prime Minister announced the declaration of states of public emergency (SOEs) in St. James, St. Catherine North, and in sections of the Kingston Central, Kingston Western, and St. Andrew South Police Divisions. These resulted in a significant reduction in major crimes, particularly murder and shooting, which was down by 21 per cent up to December.
• Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs), which were implemented in Mount Salem, St. James; and Denham Town, Kingston, in 2017, continued to contribute to a reduction in crime in 2018.
• The Jamaica Defence Force’s (JDF) aerial and maritime capabilities were significantly boosted with the acquisition of a new Beechcraft King Air 350 WR maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and two Bell 429 helicopters.
• The Caribbean Special Tactics Centre (CSTC) was officially opened at the JDF Moneague Training Camp in St. Ann.

Two Bell 429 helicopters, which were acquired for the Jamaica Defence Force’s (JDF) Maritime Air and Cyber Command.

 

Eradicating Poverty
• The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, launched the National Poverty Reduction Programme (NPRP).
The programme aims to significantly reduce and eradicate poverty by 2030, through a framework facilitating efforts. It seeks to promote economic empowerment

JSIF interventions
A total of 2,500 children and young people from communities across the island benefited from 36 summer camps staged by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) at a cost of $38.4 million.
• At-risk youth between eight and 25 years of age, who reside in volatile and vulnerable communities in five parishes, benefited from JSIF’s implementation of an $18-million Behaviour Modification Initiative/Community-based Behaviour Change Programme, over eight months.

It aimed to reduce deviant behaviour among the target beneficiaries through a range of social services and interventions.

• JSIF, in partnership with the Institute for Workforce Education and Development (IWED), trained 62 unemployed persons in landscaping and facility maintenance at a cost of $9 million. The young persons, who are from needy communities in St. Andrew, Kingston and Clarendon, were each given certificates and starter kits after graduation.

Continued improvement in public service delivery
• A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Office of the Cabinet and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) to promote exemplary service within the public and private sectors under a Service Excellence Programme.
The initiative aims to build the capacity of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) by introducing new technology and eliminating archaic, inefficient and manual-based processes and systems.

Public Sector Repository
• A Repository of Public Sector Publications and Research, the first of its kind among public-sector training entities in the Caribbean, was launched by the Management Institute for National Development (MIND).

PM hands over computers
• A total of 60 Lenovo laptop computers, valued at approximately US$65,000, were handed over to the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ), Jamaica Library Service (JLS) and secondary and tertiary students during a presentation ceremony at Jamaica House on March 23.