ST THOMAS, Jamaica — Minister of Education, Youth and Information Ruel Reid has highlighted the value of St Thomas’ location within the scope of the logistics network, noting that there is the possibility for massive investment for shipping and maritime logistics operations.
The disclosure was made at the Whispering Bamboo Cove in St Thomas recently, as the minister and executives from the HEART Trust/NTA met with scores of stakeholders in the parish to discuss the way forward for training and certification to take advantage of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
]In a news release on Monday, Reid said, “We have been expanding and doing a great deal of training at the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) which is before Parliament for approval to become the Caribbean Maritime University.”
He also encouraged people, in particular youths, to participate in the training programmes, which will be available, as the opportunity for unskilled labour employment is getting increasingly smaller.
During the consultation, executives from the HEART Trust/NTA shared their positive vision for the people of St Thomas, which includes a capacity-building plan for the development of human resources in the parish.
This is in anticipation of new projects which are slated for the parish, including the construction of a highway from Harbour View to Port Antonio.
Executive Director of the HEART Trust/NTA, Dr Wayne Wesley, advised the stakeholders that the HEART Trust/NTA has been working to ensure that training opportunities are increasingly available across Jamaica, and St Thomas would not be left out.
“The new leg of the highway places residents here at a strategic point to get on board for jobs in this new development. It is against this background that we will be developing a three-year capacity-building programme for the parish with the interested participants being able to garner the necessary knowledge and skills to grab hold of this opportunity,” Dr Wesley said.
The Trust has moved to engage residents in commercial driving, massage therapy, lifeguard training, and business process outsourcing among other key growth areas based on labour market information.
Dr Wesley shared with the group that partnerships will be critical to achieving the objectives. He appealed to community groups, and public and private sector organisations in St Thomas to work closely with the National Training Agency to expand access.
Also addressing stakeholders, Chairman of the Factories Corporation of Jamaica, Lyttleton Shirley, disclosed that several options are being considered for the reconditioning of the former Goodyear Factory in Morant Bay. Shirley said the project, when implemented, would be undertaken with the assistance of the HEART Trust/NTA.
“We want to open this discussion in terms of what type of business facilities and agencies would be best suited for expansion in a more modernised setting so that HEART can start to put in place the necessary training mechanisms to support those businesses. This means that we will not have to import persons to work in these places,” said Shirley.
He assured the gathering that any decision made would be in sync with the vision for the parish.