Jamaica must position itself in order to earn an estimated US$2.5 billion annually and benefit from the generation of up to 70,000 jobs in the maritime industry.
This was stated by Principal of Jamaica College (JC), Ruel Reid, during a presentation on job creation in the maritime industry on April 12 at the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) in Kingston.
According to Mr. Reid, the maritime industry can make Jamaica “the Singapore of the West” by 2030. “Jamaica can earn new foreign exchange annually of US$2.5 billion from new remittances, maritime and port services, with net local jobs of 10,000 and between 20,000 to over 70,000 in seafaring jobs,” he declared.
This sentiment was further reinforced by Executive Director of the CMI, Dr. Fritz Pinnock, who also pointed to the critical need to expand and properly resource the institute which is “the only International Maritime Organization (IMO) in the English-speaking Caribbean."
Executive Director of HEART/NTA, Dr. Carolyn Haye, noted that the integrated approach to training provided by the CMI, including its strategic alliances with industry, will help to boost human resource development in Jamaica.
She emphasised that business process operations (BPO), including information technology, maritime logistics and related activities present “major opportunities and great possibilities” for Jamaica’s development and the generation of jobs going forward.
In his brief remarks, Education Minister, Rev. Hon. Ronald Thwaites, endorsed the CMI’s training programmes and pledged the full support of the Ministry to the institution.
The sense of urgency to exploit business opportunities in the maritime industry has been heightened by the expansion of the Panama Canal scheduled for completion in 2014. Given Jamaica’s proximity to the strategic waterway, tremendous spin-off economic activity from its expansion is anticipated.
Earlier this year, Minister of Industry Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, put forward a package of investment projects in shipping and logistics, which he said, had the potential for transforming the country’s economic landscape.
The projects include: dredging of the Kingston Harbour and expansion of the port facilities; establishing a Dry Dock facility at Jackson Bay in Clarendon; establishing a bunkering facility at Cow Bay in Yallahs, St. Thomas; construction of a cargo and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) facility at Vernamfield in Clarendon.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter