Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) Ambassador Audrey Marks, says for young people to participate in the formal labour market in the post-pandemic recovery period, they will have to acquire critical skills and capabilities to pursue job and entrepreneurship opportunities in the transformative science and technologies sector.
Ambassador Marks, who is the Chair Pro Tempore of the OAS Inter-American Council for Integral Development, was giving remarks on Tuesday, August 31 at a meeting focused on improving critical skills and readiness of youth in the Americas for Industry 4.0.
The meeting was attended by member countries of the OAS and specially invited panellists; the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation of Colombia, Tito José Crissien Borrero; The Director of Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs IBM, Andrea Escobedo; and the Dean of the College of Architecture, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Communities, Texas A&M University and President of the Pan-American Academy of Engineering, Jorge Vanegas. The meeting examined transformative science and technologies such as new materials, artificial intelligence, big data, quantum computing, gene editing, robotics, and blockchain.
The Chair pointed out that, “Closing the skills gap will allow OAS member states to reap the benefits from emerging technologies, improve productivity, contribute to higher growth rates, and reduce poverty.” She said, “within the context of the Inter-American Committee on Science and Technology (COMCYT), OAS member states have identified the importance of providing youth with the necessary skills on transformative science and technologies as one of the priorities for regional cooperation”.
Ambassador Marks, who is also Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, told the meeting that “the COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing acceleration of the digital economy and the reshaping of global value chains have emphasised the need for us to address the skills gap and workforce readiness to reap the benefits of the innovation-driven economy”.
She observed that “the pandemic has resulted in increased poverty and inequality as well as diminished opportunities for social mobility. Women, minorities, and unskilled workers in the services sectors, such as tourism and entertainment and those occupations with high informality rates, have been particularly impacted. The crisis has also deepened the challenges associated with young people’s productive participation in the labour market”.
The Jamaican OAS Council Chair pointed out that within the context of the Inter-American Committee on Science and Technology (COMCYT) focus was placed on providing information on main trends, challenges and opportunities on transformative sciences and technologies for OAS member states. Particular focus was on the youth, identifying priorities and areas of regional cooperation and partnerships to promote youth skills for Industry 4.0, and advancing a proposal to develop the “Americas Youth Academy on Transformative Technologies”.