#Jamaica, November 7, 2017 – Kingston – Plans by the government are in the offing to convert lands around Hope Gardens in St. Andrew into a technology park. Minister without Portfolio in the Economic Growth and Job Creation Ministry, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang confirmed that by the end of 2018, the first 300,000 square foot of space will be established to employ up to 6,000 individuals.
“We know that coming to this area, companies will want to employ graduates and even post-graduate persons at competitive salaries,” he said.
Dr. Chang was speaking at a Business Process Outsourcing Career Fair, hosted by the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), at the University of Technology (UTech) in St. Andrew, on November 3. The technology park is expected to provide additional spaces for the development of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) entities and feature a number of other high specification office spaces.
Through the Housing Act of 1969, the Government has been making available to developers, public lands to build out BPO spaces through public private partnerships. Additionally, Parliament recently approved the Special Economic Zone Regulations, which now enable licensed BPO developers to enjoy significant tax and customs benefits as they build out operations.
“We want economic growth, we want industry and development and there must be job creation because the most important thing in overcoming poverty and realising prosperity is the creation of jobs and productivity,” Dr. Chang said.
Meanwhile, turning to the need for more engineers, the Minister without Portfolio informed that the Government has already begun examining ways to ensure that all students of engineering graduate.
“I have given a commitment to the Prime Minister that I will find the funding that all the current engineering [students] from the University of the West Indies (Mona Campus) and those at UTech and the Caribbean Maritime University, who are having challenges to pay their fees, will be done,” he said.
Beyond that, Dr. Chang noted that in the coming academic year the government is looking to find funding to ensure that at least “500 and ultimately 1000 students can apply to do engineering”.
Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, in his remarks, informed that among the plans by the government, is the training of 10,000 students per year in preparation for the BPO industry. In furtherance of this plan, all secondary school students will be exposed to BPO fundamentals, “for customer engagement operations on a phased basis”.
Approximately 2,400 students are currently enrolled in the Career Advancement Programme (CAP) in direct BPO and related courses, including: call contact centres, customer engagement operations, computer servicing and support, data operations and overall customer service.
For her part, JAMPRO President, Diane Edwards, said the BPO Career Fair at UTech is the first in a series of fairs being held and a second one will held be in Montego Bay shortly. She noted that the objective of the fairs is to help build an understanding of the BPO among young people looking for their first job opportunity; provide a forum for the 50 BPOs to speak to the youth about their ethos; and to open them up to potential job opportunities.
At the career fair, students from a number of institutions were present. BPOs such as Sutherland Global, IBEX Global, Avasant and VXI Global Solutions were also present to share their experiences with interested individuals.
Building community, economic, and environmental resilience through the Turks and Caicos Islands’ Covid-19 recovery
TCI community survey released as part of a new project launching
#TurksandCaicos, January 25, 2023 – The social, economic, and environmental impact of Covid-19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is the focus of a community survey being officially launched today as part of a new European Union funded project: Resilient Community Recovery from Covid-19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The TCI Government Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) are working together with key project partners, including the TCI Fishing Co-operative, TCI National Trust, and Invest Turks and Caicos, to identify sustainable livelihood ventures that simultaneously improve the natural environment and provide opportunities for the people of TCI to establish new skills and job opportunities.
This project has been funded through a €939,422 grant from The Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity Programme (RESEMBID), a €40M programme financed by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France, the development cooperation agency of France.
The community survey released today will help to inform the development of training programmes to reach at least 150 community members across the islands through a locally led Community Hub established by the project.
The experiences of businesses in TCI will also be collected in a separate survey to understand how different sectors have been affected by the pandemic and to collect ideas for building a more resilient economy. This survey will inform the development of a Natural Capital Investment Plan to signpost opportunities for sustainable investment in TCI.
According to visa service provider Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), TCI experienced a US$452 million loss from tourism revenue during the pandemic, reducing the economy by 23%. Reductions in tourist activity at the start of the pandemic and measures such as social distancing impacted job opportunities in the tourism sector and industries that depend on tourists, including local fisheries that rely on the demand from hotels and restaurants.
Whilst tourism has resumed in 2022, TCI continues to be affected by Covid-19. The tourism and fishing industries are still some of the most vulnerable to future hazards. This project will identify training opportunities to diversify the economy in both new and existing sectors, to help TCI build back from the pandemic in an environmentally conscious and resilient way.
“The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources’ remit has expanded with the responsibility of Climate Change; and the environmental and climate pressures following the Covid-19 Pandemic have shown considerable impact in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The RESEMBID Resilient Community Recovery from Covid-19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands project is supporting needs for skills training and development within and beyond the Department, to help us recover more sustainably and responsibly from the Pandemic. We look forward to the positive effects and impacts the project will have on those affected by the Pandemic.”
TCI Fishing Cooperative Chair Pastor Oscar Talbot, said:
“We are grateful to be a part of this project, as it highlights the importance of sustaining livelihoods post Covid-19 and beyond of the most vulnerable.”
“JNCC is delighted to support this project with our partners in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This project will assess the impact of Covid-19 to build the resilience of the Turks and Caicos Islands’ communities, economy and environment against future disruption. Crucially, local communities and businesses are invited to share their experiences of the pandemic through surveys launched today to shape their islands’ recovery. We look forward to supporting TCI’s communities in creating novel opportunities for sustainable livelihoods through this work.”
This project provides the people of TCI with a unique opportunity to shape the islands’ economic and environmental recovery from Covid-19 to create a more secure and sustainable future. To find out more or to complete the surveys, please visit the project webpage http://www.jncc.gov.uk/community-resilience-tc or contact TCIcommunity@jncc.gov.uk for more information.
US Coast Guard rescues 55 migrants near Puerto Rico; activity in Mona Passage high
By Sherrica Thompson
#USA, January 25, 2023 – The US Coast Guard is again warning migrants against illegal voyages by sea as 55 migrants were rescued on Thursday, January 19, after being abandoned and stranded by smugglers on an uninhabited natural reserve of Monito Island in Puerto Rico.
US Coast Guard said the survivors consisted of forty-five (45) men and nine (9) women claiming Haitian nationality, and one man who claimed to be a Cuban national. All 55 migrants were transferred to Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
The rescue involved efforts and coordination with Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) partner agencies.
According to the US Coast Guard, watch standers in San Juan, Puerto Rico, received a communication from the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 aircraft during a maritime patrol in the Mona Passage Monday night of a group of people stranded on the rocky cliffs of Monito Island located just off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
“Heavy sea-state conditions of six-to-eight-foot seas and the difficulty of accessing the ocean cliffs prevented rescue efforts from taking place until Thursday morning. Once sea-state and wind conditions improved, the cutter Heriberto Hernandez’s Over the Horizon boat safely approached Monito Island,” the agency explained in a press release.
“The Coast Guard crew provided lifejackets to the group before each migrant took their turns jumping into the water while holding onto a heaving line that was used by the crew to recover them from the water.”
Commander of Coast Guard Sector for San Juan, Captain José E. Díaz, while commenting on the danger of these voyages, urged those thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage across the Mona Passage not to do so by sea.
“The dangers of illegal voyages in the Mona Passage are exponentially increased when smugglers leave their passengers abandoned for days in austere and dangerous environments like Monito Island,” Díaz said.
Adding that: “Most do not realize the danger they are in until it is too late, as these voyages often take place aboard makeshift and grossly overloaded vessels with no lifesaving equipment. If you are thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage across the Mona Passage, do not take to the sea! It may save your life or the life of your loved ones!”
Since October 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022, the Coast Guard has carried out 14 interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico of illegal voyagers.
The US Coast Guard noted that 419 non-U.S. citizens, including 327 Dominicans, 91 Haitians and one unknown nationality, were interdicted during this period.
Bahamas takes in 396 Haitian migrants; shocking interception
By Sherrica Thompson
#TheBahamas, January 25, 2023 – In what is being described by Bahamian officials as one of the largest human smuggling incidents in the region, 394 Haitian migrants were intercepted by the United States Coast Guard near Cay Sal Island on Saturday, January 21.
According to immigration officials in The Bahamas, the migrants will be processed on the island of Inagua and later repatriated.
US Coast Guard spokeswoman Nicole Groll described the condition of the intercepted boat to the Associated Press on Monday. She said, “it was grossly overloaded and very much unsafe.”
The officials did not provide any further information on the matter.
The recent apprehension brings the total number of Haitian migrants intercepted in Bahamian waters since the start of the year to just over five hundred (500) persons.
Due to the worsening humanitarian, a surge in gang violence and deepening political instability in Haiti, thousands of Haitians are fleeing their country in search of a better life for themselves and family.
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