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Government Continues to Implement Strategies to Enhance Skills Development in Labour Force


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May 2024
 

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill (second left), engages (from left) Executive Director, Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), Kamesha Blake; President, JMEA, Sydney Thwaites; Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with direct oversight for Skills and Digital Transformation, Senator, Dr. the Hon. Dana Morris Dixon; and Head of Service Delivery and Responsible Officer at EAL (part of the Enginuity Group), Dr. Daniel Tromans, at the Manufacture 360° conference at the AC Hotel in St. Andrew, on May 8. It was hosted by the JMEA.

Above Body

 09 May 2024    admin   

The Government continues to implement several strategies to enhance skills development in the labour force, says Minister without Portfolio with direct oversight for Skills and Digital Transformation, Senator, Dr. the Hon. Dana Morris Dixon.

She said these are being undertaken to fill the gap between the skills available and those required, particularly in areas that are critical to modern manufacturing processes.

“A large portion of employees within the industry don’t have the skills necessary to advance their careers. This gap ultimately manifests itself in delayed production, increased cost, low productivity, and diminished competitiveness of our manufacturers on the global stage,” she said.

The Minister was addressing the Manufacture 360° conference at the AC Hotel in St. Andrew, on May 8.

It was hosted by the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA).

Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with direct oversight for Skills and Digital Transformation, Senator, Dr. the Hon. Dana Morris Dixon (right), in discussion with Executive Director, Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), Kamesha Blake, at the Manufacture 360° conference at the AC Hotel in St. Andrew, on May 8. It was hosted by the JMEA.

Some of the initiatives introduced are the removal of tuition and administrative fees for HEART/NSTA Trust programmes up to level four, the introduction and integrating of cutting-edge technologies into HEART/NSTA Trust programmes –robotics, mechatronics, 3D printing and optoelectronics, as well as a partnership with the players in the sector for the introduction of programmes tailored to their needs.

Dr. Morris Dixon said the HEART programmes are critical new skill areas that will enable Jamaicans to take advantage of new technologies in manufacturing.

“Yes, we had to go and look how we can introduce these new areas because we understood that where our manufacturers and exporters were going, in terms of production, was along a very digital route using a lot more technology, and if there is a lot more technology embedded in what you are doing, it means that we have to have trained individuals who understand that technology, hence that kind of a shift in HEART,” she said.

Dr. Morris Dixon said HEART will be collaborating with players in the sector to develop programmes specific to their needs.

“It doesn’t make sense for you to train people and there are no jobs for them, so what we will do with this IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) support is to build a structure where the manufacturing sector, through its sector skills council, will have even more of a role in setting the curriculum in HEART and so what HEART will be teaching will essentially be what you have said you want,” she argued.

She said the manufacturing industry plays a critical role in the country’s socio-economic landscape.

“This sector is recognised as a major driver of economic growth, creating jobs and offering numerous investment opportunities. It accounts for nine per cent of the total GDP (gross domestic product) in our county. Manufacturing is the largest industry among the goods producing sector and the sixth largest industry overall,” the Minister noted.

“This sector’s robust performance is also reflected in its contributions to export and we have seen the significant increase over the years with manufacturing exports increasing from 30 per cent of total exports to 70.3 per cent in 2022. That is a big improvement in our exports,” she said.

She noted that while the sector has grown, it has a lot more potential. “We do believe that this potential is very much linked to our ability to have the right skill set and right labour force to propel that growth forward. We know that this sector faces challenges that threaten your continued growth and sustainability, and chief among them, we believe, is the adaptation to new technologies and the newly emerging skills gap in our workforce,” the Minister said.

She pointed out that the unemployment rate for January 2015 was 14.2 per cent, and in 2024, the unemployment rate sits at 4.2 per cent, noting that there is a troubling gap between the skills available and those required, particularly in areas that are critical to modern manufacturing processes.

The Minister reiterated the Administration’s unwavering commitment to the sector and to providing the skilled workforce necessary for the continued success and expansion of the manufacturing industry.

“Together let’s build a robust manufacturing sector anchored by the requisite skilled workforce,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, urged players in the sector to increase their productivity, so they will be better able to compete in the international markets.

“When you look at our productivity as a country, we are way down the bar. We need to raise that, and as you talk to your members make sure they understand that productivity is important,” he said.

Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with direct oversight for Skills and Digital Transformation, Senator, Dr. the Hon. Dana Morris Dixon (left), shares a joke with Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, at the Manufacture 360° conference at the AC Hotel in St. Andrew, on May 8. It was hosted by the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA).

For his part, President, Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), Sydney Thwaites, said the Association is critical to the economy and the lives of many.

Source: JIS

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