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HomeEducation / CultureThe need to upskill for a rapidly changing job market

The need to upskill for a rapidly changing job market

By Chris Patterson

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Minister without portfolio in the office of the prime minister with oversight for skills and digital transformation, senator Dr Dana Morris Dixon, has underscored the importance of upskilling and reskilling, noting that these are important for maintaining relevance and competitiveness in the rapidly changing job market.

Addressing the virtual staging of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) 40th annual Business and Workplace Convention on Thursday, May 16 Dr Morris Dixon said skills development is critical and will enable Jamaicans to take advantage of new technologies.

“We are currently experiencing unprecedented rapid change around us. Innovations in artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and digital technologies are transforming industries and opening up new opportunities and possibilities. The International Federation of Robotics reported a significant expansion in robotic integration that has resulted in a 30 per cent increase in production capacities in the industries where these robots are utilised. Industries are being transformed around us. Without upskilling or reskilling, we risk falling behind and becoming obsolete in the face of global advancements,” Dr Dixon explained that the capacity to adapt and embrace these changes is now the key factor that separates individual and commercial successes from failure; changes being undertaken at the HEART/NSTA Trust form part of the Administration’s response to prepare Jamaicans to address the needs of various sectors.

Some of the initiatives introduced include the removal of tuition and administrative fees for HEART/NSTA Trust programmes up to level four, the introduction and integrating of cutting-edge technologies into HEART programmes; stakeholder partnerships in the various industries for the introduction of programmes tailored to their needs; an apprenticeship programme that bridges the gap between education and the labour market; and allocation of more resources to boost digital skills.

“When you look at the HEART programmes, you’re seeing a very big shift in terms of the programmes that are offered… in new emerging areas, [which] are going to be critical for the future,” Dr Morris Dixon pointed out. Partnerships with the various sectors and HEART will be critical in aligning training with industry needs.

“Industry will play more of a role in dictating the curriculum in HEART because as we seek to become more relevant for the future, it also means being more responsive to where our private sector… and our businesses are going.”

Regarding productivity, the minister said this is a key area that has become a focus of the administration.

“We have been able to get the macroeconomic fundamentals right but if we don’t address the productivity problem, we will not be able to see the economic growth that we want to see,” Dr Morris Dixon added.

The government’s strategic focus on transformation is not only rooted in immediate gains but also in the sustainable growth of Jamaica’s labour force and industries.

For his part, minister of labour and social security, Pearnel Charles Jr., said the government is working on developing a national policy for productivity.

“We see productivity as a priority. We are advancing the national policy on productivity, and this will continue to be a major legislative priority for the administration.”

Minister Charles stated that the policy is being developed as a tool to improve productivity across all sectors in the country and help inculcate a culture that prioritises productivity across all dimensions.

“We want every Jamaican to see productivity as a lifestyle. We want to reduce what we waste and improve on our efficiency. So, we are putting together the policy framework and the regulatory framework to ensure that we will have all Jamaicans on board.”

Charles further stated: “We… anticipate a legislative framework to help to provide greater autonomy to the Jamaica Productivity Centre, as they will be key in guiding the transformation of each sector in our country with respect to productivity and efficiency.”

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