The concept of “Workforce development” is an ambiguous one but extremely important for the continued success of any country. The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority, (the Authority) on delivering its mandate for the coordinated implementation of the Logistics Hub Master Plan as well as the SEZ Policy, identified the implementation of a Workforce Development plan in conjunction with the local and international institutions as critical to the future development of the SEZ and Logistics projects.
The SEZ and Logistics Hub Programme success is in part dependent on the availability of a skilled and qualified workforce. Whereas the country year on year has a cadre of qualified individuals graduating for various levels of education institution, it is widely believed that more is required. The Logistics Hub Market Analysis and Master Plan identified enhanced workforce capacity as one of seven enablers towards the success of the Logistics Hub initiative. The study indicated that the country’s ability to attract investment in new industries or expansions of existing ones importantly relies on its ability to provide a suitably prepared workforce and ensure workforce availability in the long term.
It is for this reason that the SEZ Workforce Development Programme will be launched in collaboration with a number of local educational institutions as well as private sector to promote private sector participation in the revitalization of communities to be located inside SEZs and encourage developer support for workforce capacity improvements. This will be achieved through a proposed mix of apprenticeship programmes, targeting specific skills based on the SEZ priority industries, identifying local institution interested in developing curriculums targeting the same industry skills and identify and partnering with international institutions to offer programmes locally.
The programme will also include specific core curriculum targeting Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics and critical thinking by ensuring that schools and vocational training systems have the capacity to develop expected skill requirements, retaining Jamaican talent and creating incentives for Jamaican university graduates to return to Jamaica. Jamaica must closely monitor shifts in employment demands to ensure that the workforce is prepared to assume new or changing jobs; but educational and training institutions must be sufficiently agile to adjust academic and vocational training curriculums to meet demand shifts.
The goal of the implementation of the programme includes the long-term readiness and short-term preparedness of Jamaica’s workforce system and labour markets to meet the growing demands of LHI-related employers efficiently and effectively.
The Development Strategies include but are not limited to:
The programme will also adopt a policy of a structured knowledge transfer. While the country works on rebalancing it’s education systems to meet future demands and opportunities in order to fast track the country’s ability to attract new large scale infrastructure development in the SEZ and Logistics Hub areas securing foreign talent will enable the country achieve its targets while schools and training institutions prepare current students to fill these roles later. However, this too will be a part of developing our local talent as through the structure knowledge transfer programme and the policy of the Ministry that allows foreign talent for specific period of time, the objective is to upskill the country’s workforce, attract Jamaicans in the diaspora and retain the best of the foreign talent that can continue to transfer knowledge.