KINGSTON, Sept. 10 (JIS):
BY: ALECIA SMITH-EDWARDS
Some 15,000 young Jamaicans are to benefit from employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the digital and animation industries under a US$20 million five-year project being undertaken by the Government.
Dubbed ‘Youth Employment in Digital and Animation Industries’ the project will target youngsters age 15 to 30 years in both urban and rural areas.
The funds are being provided by the World Bank, under a loan facility for which an agreement was signed with the Government of Jamaica on September 8, during a ceremony held at the downtown Kingston offices of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS).
Being implemented by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM), the project seeks to build the skills of animators; establish training programmes; improve employability in the global online labour market; and fund a technology incubator called ‘Start Up Jamaica’, which will provide critical support to young technology entrepreneurs to bring ideas to market.
It involves collaboration among a number of ministries and agencies and private sector companies.
The animation component will include training of animators and the strengthening of existing programmes at selected institutions as well as support the establishment of a training programme to be delivered by the HEART Trust/NTA.
State Minister for MSTEM, Hon. Julian Robinson, told JIS News that the emphasis on training is important as the only issue preventing further growth of Jamaican animation companies is the availability of skilled personnel.
“So, we are going to be ramping up our training in animation, targeting not just the established institutions, but we want to get down to the grassroots. You have a lot of talented young Jamaicans, who have not necessarily been exposed to animation before, but who have the skills, who have the aptitude. We want to put them through a programme that will equip them to deliver animation content, and for many of them to become their own entrepreneurs,” he said.
Online Job Market
Under the online job component, young people will be able seek employment opportunities across the globe, utilising the Community Access Points (CAPS) established by MSTEM across the island, and at the HEART Trust/NTA centres in Manchester, Montego Bay, Papine and at the Garmex Academy on Marcus Garvey Drive.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, stated that the online market presents a unique opportunity for young Jamaicans, many of whom have high school diplomas and college degrees.
He said that through the virtual economy, the youth can access employment opportunities globally, “a solution that is attractive for small island states where the size of the local market hinders growth and job creation”.
Start Up Jamaica
A major part of the funding will go towards ‘Startup Jamaica,’ a Government initiative aimed at providing technical support to local entrepreneurs and innovators in the area of technology.
‘Start-up Jamaica’ is a public/private partnership for economic growth and development, which aims to help Jamaica’s innovators and entrepreneurs grow their business ideas into a product, thus increasing employment and access to foreign exchange.
The project will also focus on: ‘Skills and Capacity to Enhance Employability and Entrepreneurship’; Early Stage Investment for Tech Start-ups; Support to Science, Technology and Innovation; and Project Administration.
Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, in his remarks, stated that the project will provide an opportunity to “unleash the innovative and entrepreneurial talents of Jamaicans”.
“We have demonstrated time and time again… that we have first rate talent in animation and in the digital skills that will enable us to move up the value chain as far as participation in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the digital economy is concerned,” he stated.
Senior Social Development Specialist at the World Bank, Fabio Pittaluga said the project is “innovative not just for Jamaica but for us as an institution,” and has huge opportunities for the development of the digital economy in Jamaica.
“There is a huge capital of talented, capable creative young people, who can be a force of transformation for the economy, the digital world and the online virtual economy. The digital media could really be some of the means by which that raw talent can be harnessed and provide economic growth opportunities, foreign exchange opportunities and jobs for Jamaica,” he stated.
The ‘Youth Employment in Digital and Animation Industries’ project involves collaboration with the Ministries of Finance and Planning; Industry, Investment and Commerce; Education; Youth and Culture; the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ); Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), and the Office of the Prime Minister.
Private sector stakeholders, including JNBS, Lime, and Oasis500, will provide capital to finance start-ups, as well as non-monetary support.