Jamaica Focuses on Upgrading Skills as Digital Procurement Opportunities Expand
Jamaican authorities and the business community have understood this trend and the importance of continuously updating the skills of the workforce to meet future needs. “We created the Global Services Skills Council (GSSC), with a mandate to work with a large network of training institutions and industrial experts to take their contributions and recommendations and include them in order to prepare our talents to fill the void in areas where needs are needed ” said Gloria Henry, president of the Jamaica World Service Association (GSAJ).
The GSS project is an IDB-funded program aimed at upgrading skills and preparing workers for high-level jobs in areas such as IT Services (ITES), Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) and ‘outsourcing of legal processes (LPO).
“The GSS Project in Jamaica uses a career path framework to coordinate skills upgrading across the industry. Despite minor delays during the first months of the pandemic, by December 2020, the GSS project had promoted the development of a digital skills program, completed a gender diagnostic report, and developed initiatives to promote exports and increase investments. The project is expected to complete the Career Path Framework, an Apprenticeship Program, the GSS Information Platform, and train 6,000 people using the Digital Skills Program by the end of 2021 ” , added Opertti.
Beyond the GSS, the Jamaican government and private companies have established other programs to train people in areas such as coding. These types of projects are rapidly changing the capabilities of the Jamaican workforce and raising the profile of the island as a software outsourcing destination.
“The current talent landscape has already improved exponentially compared to five years ago. There is still work to be done, but it has become easier to find qualified workers. Whenever training from institutions is not sufficient, we must intervene and facilitate this training. At present, we have six developers who are going through a refinement process with Expressway. By the end of this training, they would be able to deliver to our business, but also add value to the Jamaican ecosystem, ”said Egbert von Frankenberg, CEO and founder of the software development company. Knightfox application design.
Investments and growth prospects
According to the IDB, Jamaica has substantial opportunities to attract investment in various global service sectors. “Knowledge-based service companies are in a unique position to take advantage of the opportunities that arise from the pandemic. For example, investments made in training and development in areas such as software development and coding are likely to pay off with significant growth in the years to come, ”Opertti said.
However, companies trying to grow in the knowledge sector still face challenges. The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is home to the operations of large BPO companies, which typically have more access to capital. However, for smaller companies like Knight Fox, it becomes more difficult to qualify for the incentives offered under the SEZ.
“Knowledge-based service companies are in a unique position to take advantage of the opportunities that arise from the pandemic” – Fabrizio Opertti
“The current SEZ regulations work well for larger BPOs that have cash, but for small businesses like us the requirements that we see as an entry point are too high. There should be a way to change that and help us grow faster. Better tax incentives for software startups, infrastructure development so that cloud adaptation can grow faster, but also to include our offering in the way Jamaica is marketed, ”said Egbert von Frankenberg.
For Egbert, there is still a lack of investor knowledge about the sector. “The government is focusing on BPO because it creates more jobs. But even though we have fewer employees, our foreign income is proportionately higher, ”Frankenberg added.
Jamaica’s global service capabilities now extend to areas such as healthcare, accounting, insurance and animation. For Gloria Henry, Jamaica is ready to explore various knowledge-based realms on deeper levels.
“We understand our limitations, but we train our staff and work in partnership with various sectors. Our preparation and our disposition are clear, ”she concluded.