Business process outsourcing sub-industry to drive growth
The business process outsourcing (BPO) sub-industry has been identified as an area which will drive significant economic growth and employment generation.
"A national five-year strategy for the expansion of the sector which, all things being equal, should increase employment from the current levels of 15,000 to 30,000 by 2020 will be submitted to Cabinet shortly," Dr Peter Phillips, the country's finance minister, said in Parliament.
"A strategic objective is to move Jamaica up in the value chain in the BPO industry from simple call centres up to knowledge processing centres, outsourcing more professional services such as legal and accounting support, software development and technical support service," Phillips added.
He said in recent months, there have been the construction and lease of 50,000 square feet of space in the Barnett Tech Park, and plans are being finalised for construction and lease for another 100,000 square feet.
Additionally, a 70,000-square-foot facility in Kingston (formerly the Claro building) is now being used for BPO operations on the basis of a local investor purchasing the building.
Phillips also said that a 70,000-square-foot BPO facility has been completed in Mandeville.
"All told, the sector is expected to add at a minimum another 6,400 jobs in 2015-2016," the minister said.
He told Parliament that in order to enhance the employment-generating capacity and profitability of the investments of the BPO sector, the Growth Agenda Subcommittee of Cabinet will be giving oversight to JAMPRO in the provision of financing support for infrastructure development and training, as well as an aggressive marketing strategy.
Audley Shaw, the opposition spokesman on finance, agreed that the BPO sector offers significant potential for exponential growth in job creation.
"This sector must be treated as an emergency creator of jobs in the economy. The target of creating 20,000 by 2018 is far too modest, this must be doubled to 40,000 jobs," Shaw said.