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Story Highlights

  • Non-traditional export sector continues to perform well despite the economic challenges facing the country
  • In 2008, the sector saw earnings of US$949.1 million
  • The objective of the five-month project was to provide skills training to unemployed residents of Majesty Gardens

President of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA), Andrew Collins says the non-traditional export sector continues to perform well despite the economic challenges facing the country.

“We have been seeing a decline in traditional export products, what is noteworthy however is that non-traditional exports in Jamaica have grown consistently over the past few years. In 2008, the sector saw earnings of US$949.1 million but due to the recession in 2010, this figure had dropped to US$595 million,” he said.

“The sector was able to rebound to US$827 million in 2012 which is very close to the pre-recession figure of 2009. This means that there is demand for our products globally and especially in the products which were not traditionally considered export products such as art, craft, gift wear- these are some of the products that there is a demand in the export sector,” he explained.

The JEA President was speaking at a closing ceremony for graduates of the JEA and St. Andrew Settlement Income Generating project at the association’s offices in Kingston yesterday (September 12).

The objective of the five-month project was to provide skills training to unemployed residents of Majesty Gardens aged 18 to 35. Training areas included: the creation of craft items (jewellery, paintings) from recyclable materials; dressmaking and tailoring; carpentry and woodwork.

Mr. Collins added that the JEA stands ready to assist with the continued development of their product line.  “When you are ready to break into targeted niches in the export market directly or indirectly, the JEA stands ready and willing to assist,” he said.

Advisor to the Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Nugent encouraged the participants to hone their skills while ensuring that the standards of their products remain the highest.

“With the skills acquired, (you) can now start (your) own businesses and, indeed, become employers of other youth. In essence, this is empowerment. This project has demonstrated the tremendous potential and what can be achieved by our youth, given the necessary support,” he said.

He said that another critical component to a establishing a successful venture is ensuring that their intellectual property (IP) in their designs and creations are protected.

“In this connection, you will find that the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office, is ready to assist you in registering your IP. We believe, therefore, that engaging the youth in organized activities directed towards the creation of an entrepreneurial culture will not only serve to harness their enthusiasm, but also lead to the germination of more innovative ideas across our society,” he said.

Project beneficiary, Tashia Henclewood expressed gratitude to the developers of the programme, noting that they are now equipped to earn from the skills they have acquired. Ms. Henclewood received training in crochet making.

Approximately 40 residents of Majesty Gardens received certificates and tool kits having participated in the ‘Income Generating Opportunities For Young Unemployed People, Through Linkages With Established Micro, Small And Medium Entrepreneurs’ project.

The project, which is a collaboration among the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Jamaica Exporters’ Association, the European Union, and the St. Andrew Settlement, sought to empower them to earn and establish their own businesses.

The project also included a component for job readiness where the beneficiaries received training in the development of business plans for their respective areas, basic accounting, records keeping, marketing and sales, inventory management, business communication and computing.

In addition to the skills training, an intensive programme of internship and vocational training followed which prepared the graduates for careers in entrepreneurship including improved access to start-up capital and business development support.