President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica (AMCHAM), Ron Mckay, has committed the organization’s support of the Logistics Hub Initiative (LHI), through its implementation of programmes and activities geared towards this thrust.
AMCHAM members are US based businesses operating in Jamaica as well as local companies that do business with the United States. One of its objectives is to promote trade opportunities between Jamaica, the United States, the Caribbean region and the world.
Highlighting its efforts regarding the LHI, Mr. Mckay noted that AMCHAM is seeking to position itself to offer vocational training to help the country satisfy the demand for skilled labour associated with the logistics hub.
“We have moved towards some of the actual initiatives that need to be in place in order for the logistics hub to be successful. In this case, we feel that there really needs to be a paradigm shift in the country towards a major vocational education initiative, in order to meet the skill sets, the jobs and the employment base that will be required to actually make a logistics hub of this magnitude successful,” the President said.
Mr. Mckay noted that a dedicated educational committee has been established to discuss and plan the way forward, as it relates to the drive to increase vocational training in preparation for logistics hub activities.
“We have representatives like JPS [Jamaica Public Service] on that committee, and there is Digicel. We are meeting with sectors like HEART and we have signed an alliance with Jamaica Education Television (JET), and we are looking to companies to say to us what skill sets are needed and what we are lacking,” he outlined.
The President added that the goal is to establish a private sector-based initiative that will complement logistics-related training programmes already being provided by state-funded training agencies, such as the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) and Heart Trust/NTA.
“We have also applied for, and are a finalist with USAID [United States Agency for International Development] in Washington, D.C., for a vocational education grant that would give us the proper funding to pursue our goals and objectives,” Mr. Mckay said.
He pointed out that as part of the thrust, AMCHAM will be seeking to create content that will be video-streamed on demand at jetchannels.com, in addition to being shown on JET, a cable station aired locally.
The President said the LHI is a major undertaking for Jamaica and will require a revolutionary change in the mindset of all players involved.
“It is not just about allocating land, infrastructure and going to find investors…it is about readiness from a mindset and a cooperative environment between the public and private sectors. I am not sure if the country understands how large an undertaking this is and the challenges that accompany it. It is about bringing together so many areas of the Government and the private sector and then globally connecting all those areas with the domestic-based areas and make all these work as a fine-tune machine, in order for us to even be in a position to get a type of hub like this into the building and developing stages,” he pointed out.
Jamaica is seeking to capitalise on the trade and business opportunities that will flow from the expansion of the Panama Canal, scheduled for completion by early 2016.
Positioning Jamaica as an integral node in the international logistics and transshipment industry is expected to boost local businesses and individuals at all levels, as well as establish a platform for long term growth in all areas of the economy and for the country as a whole.
Published Date: August 19th, 2015
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