- Several ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) played an integral role in the implementation of programmes under ‘Job Creation & Economic Growth’.
- The Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) generated several jobs throughout the year.
- The HEART Trust/NTA has played a significant role in making Jamaicans more marketable and skilled through its array of training courses.
The Government implemented several initiatives and programmes in 2013, aimed at boosting economic development and creating avenues for more persons to be employed.
These efforts were carried out under one of the five strategic priorities developed by the Government for the 2013/14 Fiscal Year – ‘Job Creation & Economic Growth’ – with the objective of improving the lives of the citizens.
Several ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) played an integral role in the implementation of programmes under that priority area.
The Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), with its Secretariat in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, is a major project that generated jobs throughout the year.
Jamaicans were employed in areas, such as road repairs, the construction of low-income housing, skills training and agricultural production in ginger, turmeric, cocoa and bananas.
Projects which were undertaken during the year included: repairs to several roadways in North Western St. Ann; rehabilitation of roadways and community infrastructure in South East St. Elizabeth and the implementation of a school feeding initiative in institutions in sections of St. Andrew.
Approximately 700 persons gained employment on various projects undertaken in West Central St. James; another 800 got jobs through the Farm Road Maintenance Project and 50 gained employment at Twickenham Industries, in St. Catherine.
Some 37,000 persons have benefited from the JEEP since it was launched last year.
The Tourism industry played its role in creating jobs and providing opportunities for skills training through various initiatives it undertook in 2013.
During the summer, the Ministry implemented the Tourism Summer Intern Programme, which saw close to 700 students between 16 and 25 years of age being trained and placed across the island, particularly in the resort areas of Negril, Montego Bay, Port Antonio, Kingston, Mandeville and the South Coast.
The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) embarked on a Language Skills Training Programme, aimed at training some 300 persons in the tourism industry, in conversational Russian and Spanish.
In November, a management agreement was signed between the National Insurance Fund (NIF) and Europe’s third largest hotel chain, Melia Hotels International (MHI), which will see the provision of some 400 jobs in the tourism industry.
Under the agreement, the Spanish hotel chain will operate the Braco Hotel in Trelawny, for the next 15 years.
One of the major projects, which is intended to strengthen and boost economic development, is the Global Logistics Hub initiative.
The Global Logistics Hub is the centerpiece of the Government’s economic growth strategy and is intended to transform the economy and result in wealth and job creation.
To date, several targets and activities have been achieved, including a Ministerial mission to Canada; establishment of a multi-billion dollar private sector infrastructure fund; meetings with investors from China, Singapore, Germany, Canada, United States, Europe, Rotterdam, Kuwait and Dubai; proposals to build and operate Vernamfield airport from Canadian and Middle East investors, and for the establishment of several industrial parks.
In terms of education and training, discussions have been held with various tertiary institutions and HEART Trust/NTA to ensure modified and targeted training with measures to be implemented, to ensure that the Jamaican workforce and entrepreneurs can take advantage of the upcoming opportunities.
The development of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) was another top priority item for the Government to enhance economic growth and generate employment.
This resulted in the launch of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) and Entrepreneurship Policy in late October.
The policy seeks to guide the implementation of strategies to improve the local business climate and reduce some of the impediments which MSMEs encounter in doing business.
The document, which was tabled in Parliament in July, speaks to improving the business environment and increased finance to the sector; enhancing business development support; broadening the entrepreneurial and innovative base and tackling cross-cutting socio-economic and environmental issues, such as women and youth in business, and persons with disabilities.
Jamaica, for the first time, joined the world in celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week from November 18 to 23. Spearheaded by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), the week was aimed at inspiring the MSMEs in Jamaica, through local and national initiatives designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators, using the MSME & Entrepreneurship Policy as a benchmark to success.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will, over the next three years, be investing some US$8 million in the development of nine agro parks in parishes across the island.
The parks are situated in Plantain Gardens and Yallahs, St. Thomas; Amity Hall and Hill Run, St. Catherine; Ebony Park and Spring Plain in Clarendon; New Forest/Duff House, St. Elizabeth/Manchester; Ettingdon, Trelawny; and Meylersfield in Westmoreland.
Five of the parks were put into production during the year and have created more employment for persons, with the production of a number of critical crops, such as onions, Irish potato, yam, honey, small ruminants, hot pepper, ginger, turmeric, pineapple, pumpkin, sweet potato, corn, and callaloo.
Some 5,000 persons are expected to benefit directly and indirectly from the establishment of the nine agro parks. The project is expected to reduce imports of targeted crops, create employment, increase agricultural output, reduce the national food import bill and stimulate food exports. Foreign exchange savings of $4 billion is projected when the initiative is fully operational.
The HEART Trust/NTA has played a significant role in making Jamaicans more marketable and skilled through its array of training courses.
In November, some 1,400 persons became better equipped to join the country’s workforce, having graduated from training courses being offered by the HEART Trust/ NTA in the western region.
In August, the Ministry of Education hosted a two-day job fair as a means of providing employment opportunities for graduates of teacher-training institutions.
The trained teachers had the opportunity to meet various employers and secure appointments to be interviewed for jobs. In addition, they benefitted from career development and motivational presentations.
During the year, the Government capitalized on opportunities within the animation industry by conducting islandwide training sessions for the youth.
Scores of talented youth were given the opportunity to learn some of the basic skills and techniques from local and international players in the field, which will help prepare them for a career in animation.
The implementation of initiatives to boost employment and economic growth is also in tandem with the goals of the country’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030, which is to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.