Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says that Government will be placing greater focus on developing those skills that will foster job creation and grow the economy.
As such, he said, young people will be encouraged to move towards subjects such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as “this is our bread and butter”.
Minister Paulwell was speaking on the topic: ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, for Innovation and Economic Prosperity’ at a forum staged by the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) School of Education on Tuesday, February 5, on the Mona campus.
He told the audience of students and faculty members that the Government recently finalized a strategic road map for science, technology and innovation (STI), which provides a framework for the general support of research, development and innovation.
It will seek to generate greater interest in the sciences by young people, advance research and development, especially by tertiary institutions, and accelerate product development and effective commercialization.
“In the road map, they have looked at five national priority areas where they believe we do have advantages, where we should focus on development so that we can achieve growth. These are health and wellness, the creative industries, resource use efficiency, resource value adding, and small and medium sized enterprises,” the Minister said.
He said that the Government will be looking to cultivate partners in the various training institutions such as the universities that can develop the STI systems that will add value to the productive base.
Turning to the rare earth elements project that was recently launched, Minister Paulwell said the Government will ensure that the initiative benefits Jamaica “to its fullest”.
“We are looking beyond the refining of the oxides to where those oxides are going to be used for manufacturing and the approach that we are taking is that we intend to be ‘part and parcel’ of all the various stages of the use of our rare earth towards the development of so many products,” he stated.
He also assured that the “issue of the environment is uppermost” as the Government proceeds with the project.
Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI, Mona campus, Professor Gordon Shirley, said that there is a growing recognition that one of the key requirements for growth in Jamaica is through innovation and that at the heart of this, is doing subjects in the sciences.
He informed that efforts by the physics and mathematics departments at the UWI, aimed at reversing the trend of declining enrollments in these areas are reaping results.
He noted that the pass rate and demand for places in areas such as physics, mathematics and actuarial sciences have increased.