BPO JAMAICA: NEWS
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2018
BPOmajor contributor to unemployment reduction
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,”
“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
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
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
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
“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