JIS News

Jamaica’s ability to remain competitive in the global market is contingent on the development of a culture of continuous innovation and improvement driven by science and technology (S&T), said Robert Buddan, Director of Policy, Planning, Research & Projects in the Ministry of Industry, Investment, & Commerce.
He was speaking at the opening of the Scientific Research Council’s 21st annual conference on Science & Technology on (Nov. 20) at the Hilton Kingston hotel. The three-day conference is being held under the theme: ‘Science & Technology – Driving Youth Development’.
Mr. Buddan, who deputized for Minister Karl Samuda, who was unavoidably absent, said that S&T, supported by an educated citizenry, is critical to the creation of an internationally competitive economy.
“It is now well accepted that a highly educated population is necessary in this globalized world. It is also well accepted that those economies, which are internationally competitive, are largely anchored in strong science and technology,” he pointed out.
Citing the United States, Japan, Germany, and China as examples in this regard, he said the paradigm shift in the global marketplace now sees world production moving to countries such as these, which have achieved economic efficiency by virtue of high quality goods and services produced at low costs.
He pointed out that formerly, protectionism enabled countries to produce certain goods and services for which they did not have the comparative or competitive advantage but “today, jobs in uncompetitive economies are being lost to the more competitive economies.”
According to Mr. Buddan, the culture of innovation is not confined to engineers and technicians but incorporates other professionals, including managers, administrators, and civil servants, whom he said, need to be equipped with a strong S&T foundation if they are to be “supportive of the engineers and technologists in their innovation pursuits.”
Commenting on the theme of the conference, the Ministry official said that S&T must be prioritized in schools to “drive youth development and leapfrog the development process.”
Recognizing that some institutions may have resources constraints, Mr. Buddan said assistance could be sought from companies to “provide a ‘top up’ for hard-to-retain teachers such as those who teach physics and chemistry” as well as adopt specific laboratories.
He further recommended that the SRC could assist in the establishment and operation of a dedicated science and technology cable channel to teach the subject in schools. He gave an undertaking to assist in identifying funding for the latter should the suggestion be taken up.
In the meantime, Mr. Buddan encouraged consumers to support the innovations of young scientists by purchasing their goods and services.
Distinguished chemist and Gold Musgrave Medal awardee, Professor Bertram Fraser-Reid, who was the guest speaker, underscored the need for investments in S&T for the economy to achieve significant growth.