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JAMAICA: More Young People Seeing Opportunities in BPO

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#Jamaica, February 07, 2018 – Kingston – Business process outsourcing (BPO) once viewed is a stop-gap job option, has become a career of choice for many bright, young Jamaicans.  In fact, many of them are moving to Montego Bay, which has become the centre of the country’s BPO operations, to take up positions in the sector.

Among them is Junior Rogers, who tells JIS News that “I came specifically from Ocho Rios to Montego Bay to be a part of this rapidly growing industry.”  He boasts that within three years, he was able to rise to a supervisory role at the business in the Montego Bay Free Zone, where he is employed.

“The BPO sector is an important outlet for a lot of school leavers, who can chart a course for their future by becoming employed to one of these companies here in the Montego Bay Free Zone,” he says.

Information Technology Manager, Tamara Smith, tells JIS News that numerous opportunities abound at all levels for the sector and is encouraging Jamaicans, especially young people, to seize the moment.  Ms. Smith, who has been working in the BPO sector for five years, says the experience is very rewarding and that every day there is an opportunity to learn something new.

“I love the fact that it is a fast-paced environment.  I love the fact that this is a sector with prospects for growth and which is filled with great young minds and brilliant ideas,” she notes.

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Ms. Smith, who has seven employees under her wings, says the industry is more than just call-centre operations, noting that it is a great career move that will lead to economic stability and a rewarding future.  She fully supports the Government’s focus on growing the BPO industry, noting that it is important that the investments, including human capital, continue to pour into the sector.

“Like other Jamaicans, I am very optimistic about the future and really like what I am seeing here with our young people,” she adds.

Young mother Simone Phillips credits the sector with providing her with a second chance after she had to leave school prematurely when she became pregnant.

“I was a single mother at home and very unsure about my future.  I had a chance meeting with someone who is employed to a prominent company in the free zone and the link was made for me to do an interview,” she tells JIS News.

She says she was pleasantly surprised at the opportunity for growth and the fact that it is not just a call centre as many persons are led to believe.  “I am not making millions, but my life has changed for the better,” she adds.

Curtley-Ann Palmer joined the staff of Sutherland Global Services as a customer service representative in 2014, and four years later she would become one of the entity’s top-performing managers.  She told JIS News in an interview in March 2017, that she worked hard and took advantage of all the training programmes, completing an undergraduate degree at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

She was promoted to acting supervisor and then into her current position as an acting account manager.  In this role, she oversees the account she has been assigned and ensures all client relations are smooth. She also works with her team to address work-related challenges.  Ms. Palmer supports the push by the Government to use the BPO industry as one of the key sources of employment of young Jamaicans as part of the national growth strategy.  She also strongly dispels the myth that the industry only employs persons to work in call centres.

“There is something for everybody within this industry. If you studied finance or human resources; there is a place for you,” she notes.

The Government is targeting BPO as a key part of its economic growth and job creation thrust.  A total of 26,000 persons are employed in the sector and the Administration is looking to increase the number to 50,000 in short order.  BPO has the highest employment growth rate of any sector over the last decade, with several new players and rapid expansion in operations.  It has become the number-one source of employment next to tourism in western Jamaica.  Revenues from the industry grew from approximately US$230 million in 2012 to US$400 million in 2015.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, says greater focus is being placed on the training of persons, particularly for higher-end activities and high-value positions.  He informs that the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), through its free zones, will be working closely with the HEART Trust/NTA and the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) to develop an incubator geared towards knowledge services and technology-type work.  Additionally, he notes that programmes have been developed by the HEART Trust/NTA for BPO-related courses, on-the-job management training, international accreditation of courses and apprenticeship programmes.

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JAMPRO, through collaboration with private- and public-sector partners, hosted a job fair in Kingston last November to educate Jamaicans about the sector, and recruit people for jobs.  At the event, the HEART Trust/NTA recruited persons for its three-week contact centre/BPO training programme, while a number of BPO companies conducted interviews for jobs in the industry.  Minister Vaz says the next steps for the BPO sector include areas such as shared services, legal process outsourcing (LPO), and medical process outsourcing (MPO).

The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) says there is high demand for LPO, with law firms utilising outside support services for legal research and other routine work.

“We have actively engaged several international shared-services operators and LPO operators in an effort to get them to expand to Jamaica,” Minister Vaz says.

He informed that JAMPRO has engaged local universities and key stakeholders in a bid to provide details on higher-level jobs available to graduates in the new areas.

“The sky is the limit for the BPO sector, and we intend to capitalise on every aspect of this lucrative industry for the benefit of Jamaica and Jamaicans,” Minister Vaz declares.

By: Garwin Davis (JIS)

 

 

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TCI Sport delegation visits the Cayman Islands and Barbados with key sport leaders

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TCI Sports Commission delegation traveled to the Cayman Islands and Barbados to visit with key Sport leaders. The TCI delegation included the Sports Commission Director, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, Deputy Director, Mr. Alvin Parker, and Facility Manager for Providenciales, Mr. Darian Forbes. The aim of the travel was to visit major facilities, with priorities being pool facilities, and discuss sport development strategies.

The team had the pleasure of being hosted by the Deputy Chief Officer for Sport, Dr. Dalton Walter, and the Director of Sports, Mr. Kurt Hyde in the Cayman Islands; who facilitated the facility tours and shared valuable information on Sports Development. Meetings were held with Deputy Chief Officer Ms. Joan West and Technical Director for the Cayman Islands Aquatics Sport Association, Mr. Jacky Pellerin, on the Cayman Islands’ new 50-meter and 25 meter 10 lanes Mrytha pool facility, as well as with Ms. Shakeina Bush from the National Olympic Office on National Federation development and funding opportunities. The Sports Commission delegation was also grateful for the courtesy call with the Minister of Sport for the Cayman Islands, Hon. Isaac Rankine, and the Chief Officer Ms. Teresa Echenique.

During the Barbados leg of the exploratory travel, the Sports Commission team was hosted by the Director of the National Sports Council, Mr. Neil Murrell, and the Assistant Director of Sports, Mr. Ryan Toppin. The TCI team toured the National Sport Council facilities and visited the Barbados National Olympic Association. Significant to the TCI’s plan to develop an aquatic center, the TCI Sports Commission visited the Barbados Aquatic Sport Association and met with former National Olympic Academy Director, Mr. Dave Farmer, and the President and Second Vice President of the Barbados Swim Association, Mr. Robert Armstrong and Mr. Nicholas Mathis. Insights were shared regarding swimming pool design, development and maintenance as well as pool programming strategies to ensure the growth and sustainability of swimming in the islands.

The TCI delegation also visited other stadium facilities such as Track and Field, Football and Cricket, and other major facilities in Basketball and Boxing. The TCI Sport Commission officials had great discussions with both the Cayman Islands and Barbados sports officials surrounding the development of coaches, athlete development pathways, and strengthening relationships with National Sport Governing Bodies.

Director of Sports, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, said, “We were very grateful for the hospitality and support extended by our Caribbean colleagues. Their support affirmed the commitment and unity among the Caribbean community to develop sports in the region.”

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SIDS drowning in debt as sea levels rise

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

June 7, 2024 – United Nations (UN) Secretary General, His Excellency Antonio Guterres has said that international financing is the “fuel for sustainable development” but small island States are running low on the funding.

Addressing  day two of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS24), in Caribbean twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, the Secretary General said while financing is low, the countries are drowning in debt and rising sea levs due to Climate Change.

“You are leading by example, but too often you are facing closed doors, from institutions and, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic and other global happenings have negatively impacted vulnerable economies, and “battered by a Climate catastrophe they did not create”, he told the gathering.

The SIDS countries are paying more to service their own debt than they invest in healthcare and education, the UN chief warned, leaving the nations unable to make the investments they need to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Many of the States are classified as middle-income, shutting them out of the debt support reserved for the poorest nations, the UN Chief argued that vital actions are needed from international financial institutions, in addition to an immediate SDG stimulus for the SIDS nations.

He outlined that the debt burden should be relieved, by providing access to effective relief mechanisms, including pauses in payments during times of economic volatility, while also transforming lending practices by changing the rules on concessional finance to lower borrowing costs. “You cannot finance education and health with 15-year loans. Let us make SIDS a real priority in everything we do,” he said.

Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley said there was simply no political will on the part of the developed world to make the financial system work fairly,  as she enquired  how many  of those leaders have turned up in Antigua. “We are not seen”, she said, adding that “we continue to be serfs” when it comes to the power imbalance.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are in the crossfires of multiple crises: Climate Change, the economic and social repercussions of COVID-19, and a crisis of debt. The pandemic hugely impacted all island nations, especially those dependent on tourism. Global lockdowns left large holes in islands’ coffers and severely set back efforts to invest in the SDGs.

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Transcultura lauded at SIDS gathering, wins Partnership Awards 2024

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

June 7, 2024 – The United Nations (UN) programme, Transcultura, which seeks to integrate Caribbean, and the European Union through Culture and Creativity, has been selected to receive the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Partnerships Awards 2024.

Operate under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it is the largest programme in Latin American and the Caribbean, and is a four-year initiative for young cultural professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs from 17 Caribbean countries.

Implemented in three languages, it provides them with opportunities for their future, in the region and in Europe, through training, support to entrepreneurship, networking and mobility programmes. With 15 million euros (16.5 million US dollars) provided by the European Union (EU), Transcultura is also the most significant EU investment in culture in the region.

In four years, over 1,600 young people from 17 Caribbean SIDS have benefited from the programme, with more than 50% being women. Through a combination of in-person and online courses, 600 cultural professionals have been trained. It has also facilitated cooperative cultural exchanges involving over 200 organisations from the Caribbean and the European EU. 

The programme resulted in the establishment of the Caribbean Cultural Training Hub, which fostered synergies between key educational institutions in the region. The award’s jury recognised the transformative impact of the Transcultura programme, empowering young people in the region to become agents of change and development in their communities through culture and creativity.

It was established by UN Member States in 2021 to recognise the efforts of the best and most notable partnerships in the implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway (SAMOA Pathway). The goal is to inspire others to embark on such partnerships with SIDS.

Transcultura programme leverages the rich cultural diversity of the Caribbean as a driving force of sustainable development through cooperation and exchange within the Caribbean and between the Caribbean and the EU. It aims to create professional opportunities for young people in the Cultural and Creative Industries.

Beneficiary countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

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