Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says further buildout of Jamaica’s global services sector (GSS) by the Government over the next five years will generate significant job and skills training opportunities for women and youth in particular.
The Administration has secured a US$15-million 24-year loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to implement the Skills Development in Global Services Project, which aims to upskill and prepare industry workers for higher value-added GSS Information Technology (IT)-enabled activities, particularly in business process outsourcing (BPO), information technology outsourcing (ITO), and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO).
Additionally, it is intended to strengthen Jamaica’s institutional capacity and competitiveness to attract new GSS investments.
Speaking at the loan agreement signing at the Ministry in Kingston on Thursday (January 24), Dr. Clarke said focus in the proposed GSS buildout is being placed on ensuring that women can take advantage of some of the anticipated opportunities.
“We have seen in the last employment data that the unemployment rate for men is about 5.8 per cent… but for women, it’s about 11 per cent. So, we want to ensure that we have programmes that include cross-cutting gender activities to support the readiness of women in the workplace,” he indicated.
Noting that the GSS has experienced rapid growth in development and jobs in recent years, the Minister said the number of workers in the sector, which currently stands at 32,000, is expected to increase to 40,000 over the next 12 months, and 50,000 upwards of two years thereafter.
Dr. Clarke said that GSS is tailored for skilled persons, pointing to potential opportunities for persons with undergraduate and graduate qualifications “to provide knowledge-based services using what information technology and digital technologies will allow today”.
He said against this background, there are a number of young people who can benefit and move up in life, through the opportunities that are available in this sector.
Meanwhile, President of the Government’s principal investment agency, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), which is executing the project, Diane Edwards, emphasised the importance of the project’s skills training component, which will be administered through HEART Trust/NTA.
She noted that the general view that the GSS is an unskilled industry is a misconception, and stressed that “it requires highly skilled people”.
Ms. Edwards said the whole focus of the programme is to open up a world of opportunities for Jamaica to grow exponentially in this sector.
She indicated that a public-private Global Services Sector Skills Board (GSSSB) will be established to oversee development of industry skills for the future.
Its membership will include representatives from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) and HEART.
“It [skills development programme] will train the trainers, co-fund companies’ in-house training programmes, improve curricula, build the links between the industry and the teaching and training institutions, and create talent platforms and incubators for talent,” the JAMPRO President added.
Ms. Edwards anticipates that over the next five years, as the project is rolled out and Jamaica moves up the GSS value chain, more jobs will be created in higher skilled areas.
These include human resources, accounting, legal process outsourcing (LPO), knowledge process outsourcing (KPO), data analytics, software development, robotics, artificial intelligence and gaming.