Tue | Sep 24, 2019

It’s our goal to expand BPOs to rural areas, says Henry

Published:Thursday | August 15, 2019 | 12:26 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
From left: Pearnel Charles Jr, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation; Gloria Henry, president of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica; Krista Lucenti, senior specialist, IDB; and Susie Grigsby, governance officer in the UK’s Department for International Development, at the launch of the Jamaica Global Sector Services project yesterday.

The Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) says that a lack of adequate infrastructure in rural areas is hindering expansion plans for the sector as it seeks to woo more youth to take up business process outsourcing (BPO) jobs.

BPIAJ President Gloria Henry made the disclosure while speaking at the Jamaica Global Services Sector – Moving Firms Up the Value Chain project launch yesterday at the Inter-American Development Bank House in Kingston.

Responding to an invitation from Pearnel Charles Jr, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, to balance the opportunity given to youth in the Corporate Area with those in rural areas, Henry said that the intention is to spread across the island as soon as the infrastructure is in place.

“This sector actually started in Montego Bay some 34 years ago, and we have expanded into Portmore, St Catherine; Kingston; Manchester; Sandy Bay in Hanover; [and] Clarendon. We are expanding in Westmoreland; St Elizabeth; Ocho Rios, St Ann, and we expect as soon as facilities are built up in Portland and Morant Bay (St Thomas) that we will expand there as well,” the BPIAJ boss said. “We are getting fibre in Morant Bay, I am told. [We} had a very good meeting with Liberty recently and were told that they are on track to put the telecoms infrastructure in that area. So once the facilities are built out and the infrastructure is there, it is our goal to expand across the island.”

Do more for rural youth

In his address, Charles said that the Government remained committed to the sector and wanted to see more rural youth benefiting from employment.

“We have a myriad youngsters in the rural areas who don’t get the opportunities that some of the youngsters in the Kingston and Portmore areas get ... . I want to invite you also to go out and pull those youngsters in. They are bubbling for opportunities. They want to be a part of the global services sector. They want to be a part of this,” he said.

Turning to the project launched yesterday, Susie Grigsby, governance officer at the United Kingdom government’s Department of International Development, said that the UK remains focused on supporting the Caribbean to become more resilient to climate and economic shocks and to be more prosperous, inclusive and secure.

“We are proud to be the Caribbean’s largest financial donor to include spending £27 million in Jamaica over the last five years. This is a special project because it will see real partnership between Government, private sector, and international development partners,” Grigsby said.

Kevin Gilhooly, charge’ d’affaires at the Canadian High Commission, said his government was happy to be part of the project to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Jamaica.

“Canada is actively promoting sustainable and inclusive business development. This is why we have invested $10 million in phase two of the partnership facility. The funding is going towards innovative and practical solutions [to] stimulate economic growth, increase productivity, and foster innovation across 15 countries in the Caribbean region,” he said.

andré.williams@gleanerjm.com