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15

BPO JAMAICA: NEWS

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2018

BPOmajor contributor to unemployment reduction

T

HE BUSINESS Process Industry

Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) is lauding

the decision by the Government to

undertake a comprehensive review of the

education system starting in 2021.

Jamaica’s participation in the Programme for

International Student Assessment (PISA) will be

undertaken at a cost of over $116 million over a

four-year period and will be done by the Ministry

of Education, Youth and Information, portfolio

minister Senator Ruel Reid revealed recently.

“We at the BPIAJ welcome this initiative by the

honourable minister as this assessment of 15-

year-old students can identify the strengths and

weaknesses of our education system; paving the

way for the secondary and vocational training

institutions to develop the remedial training

programmes to ensure the system is outputting

the right talent,” Gloria Henry, BPIAJ president,

said. “In the global services sector where BPO is

one segment, there is an increasing demand for

interpersonal skills and higher cognitive skills to

supplement technical competencies.

“The basic skills of literacy and numeracy are

no longer the minimum requirements for labour;

there is greater emphasis placed on creativity,

critical thinking, decision making, and complex

information processing in the workplace.

“Outsourcing is a dynamic phenomenon, and

as we seek to advance up the value chain, the

demand for critical talent along all verticals will

continue to grow. Therefore, if Jamaica is to

remain competitive in any global sector, it will

have to set its benchmarks to global standards,”

Henry argued.

“To plan for the future, we must ensure that we

properly prepare the youths, equipping them with

the expertise and skills that enable them to adapt

to the rapid global changes taking place in all

fields of development and knowledge.”

PISA is a worldwide study conducted by the

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and

Development every three years. It evaluates

educational systems by measuring the skills and

knowledge of 15-year-old students in the

subjects of mathematics, science, and reading.

According to Minister Reid, the project will

facilitate the evaluation and ranking of the

Jamaican education system with other countries,

joining Trinidad and Tobago as the countries in

the English-speaking Caribbean currently

participating in PISA.

PISA reaches more than 80 countries globally.

BPIAJ welcomes review

of Ja’s education system

REID

THERE IS unwavering optimism among

business leaders for further reduction in

Jamaica’s unemployment rate, which has

dropped to an all-time low of 8.4 per cent.

The out-turn, captured in the Statistical

Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) July 2018

Labour Force Survey, is 1.3 per cent lower

than the 9.7 per cent recorded in April

2018 and 2.9 percentage points below the

rate of 11.3 per cent for July 2017.

Several business leaders cite ongoing

developments in business process

outsourcing (BPO) and construction,

including residential real estate, as major

employment drivers, particularly for young

people.

Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF),

president David Wan says that the number

of jobs generated in the BPO sector has

doubled over the last few years and that

there are multiple infrastructure projects

going on in Kingston right now, inclusive of

roadworks and private-sector

developments, particularly call-centre

buildings.

The road projects include works along

Constant Spring Road, Hagley Park Road

into Three Miles, and Mandela Highway.

Coupled with these are BPO projects on

Half-Way Tree Road and housing

developments along Ruthven Road, South

Avenue and Surbiton Road in St Andrew.

Wan also cites multibillion-US-dollar

investments by Chinese entity Jiuquan Iron

and Steel Company in the expansion of the

Alpart bauxite and alumina plant in Nain,

St Elizabeth, and development of an

industrial park, all of which he expects will

spur increased employment, particularly in

the mining and quarrying sector.

Wan further mentions projects on the

horizon that will generate jobs and result in

a reduction in the unemployment rate.

Among these are the Southern Coastal

Highway Improvement Project between

Harbour View and Port Antonio; extension

of the east-west leg of Highway 2000 from

May Pen to Williamsfield; and a major

hotel development slated to provide 1,000

additional rooms, for which the breaking of

ground was recently announced by tourism

minister Edmund Bartlett.

“I see enough projects, coupled with the

Government’s commitment to low interest

rates, which will make credit easily

available to the private sector for retooling

and expansion of inventory to drive higher

employment generation,” he adds.

Former Jamaica Chamber of Commerce

President Warren McDonald also

highlights BPO and construction as among

the contributing factors to the reduction in

unemployment.

“Whether it’s road infrastructure or

buildings, when you drive around the city

of Kingston, I can’t recall so much

construction taking place at any one time.

So I think this probably has contributed to

the reduced figure,” he said.

McDonald said he is particularly pleased

with the 12-month 5.3 percentage point

reduction in youth unemployment, which

fell from 27.5 per cent in July 2017 to 22.2

per cent this year.

He attributes this “major drop”, in large

measure, to a take-up of persons by BPO

entities.