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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says establishment of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) academies will further assist in equipping the country’s youth with the necessary skills to benefit from new digital economy jobs.
“We will establish six new STEM academies and an academy for the creative and performing arts. Our efforts are focused on equipping our young people with the necessary skills to harness the power of transformative science and technology to collaboratively propel our communities forward,” he said.
Addressing the sixth meeting of Ministers and High Authorities in Science and Technology from the Office of the Prime Minister in St. Andrew, on December 7, the Prime Minister said this will enable them to benefit from the new job opportunities that are being created in the 21st century global economy.
Providing statistics from the World Economic Forum’s most recent ‘Future of Jobs Report’, he said it is estimated that by 2025, approximately 85 million jobs may be displaced by technology, while 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adaptive to the new division of labour among humans, machines and algorithms.
“We must accelerate our investments in the markets and jobs of tomorrow to get our fair share of these new digital economy jobs. In order to remain relevant and compete in the 21st century global economy, we have to fundamentally transform ourselves,” he emphasised.
Mr. Holness said the theme of the meeting, ‘Harnessing the Power of Transformative Science and Technologies to Drive Our Communities Forward’, is quite fitting, “as we work towards a stronger recovery from the pandemic, one that is more resilient and inclusive”.
The Prime Minister said the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated existing inequalities, widened technology and social gaps, and particularly highlighted the educational gap for students in the lower socio-economic groups.
“Other challenges that have emerged include those related to widespread misinformation, privacy, data protection and cybersecurity. Even before the pandemic, technological adoption was transforming tasks, jobs and skills,” he said.
“The pandemic has only accelerated this, some experts say, by up to five years. Although technology and automation will continue to displace, there will be huge new opportunities created in digital economy jobs,” Mr. Holness added.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister recognised the efforts made by the Organization of American States (OAS), supported by development partners, to assist member states in addressing connectivity challenges and for the training opportunities aimed at transforming the way “we conduct business”.
“We can only overcome current challenges through continued collaboration and shared responsibilities. There is need to consolidate our gains and redouble our efforts, particularly in areas which will spur economic growth and development utilising new technologies of service sectors. Bridging the digital divide, the transition to e-commerce, renewable energy, biotechnology, biodiversity and addressing climate change are some of the areas which will underpin post pandemic growth and development. Our actions must be results-based and people-centred,” he said.
The Sixth Meeting of Ministers and High Authorities of Science and Technology is being held virtually on December 7 and 8 and is organised jointly by the Government of Jamaica and the OAS.
The Meeting brings together the highest science, technology and innovation authorities of the hemisphere, as well as representatives from the private sector, academia, and civil society. It is a key instrument for scientific and technological cooperation and remains the principal forum for hemispheric dialogue and the formulation of public policies in science, technology and innovation in the Americas.