High job hopes for Junction
Expectations are high in Junction, St Elizabeth, as stakeholders are of the view that the impending reopening of the Alumina Partners of Jamaica (ALPART) bauxite processing plant, and new opportunities in the agriculture and business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors should churn out numerous jobs for young people in the community.
The three areas were cited as potential sources of employment by Richard Parchment, member of parliament for South East St Elizabeth, while speaking to the issue of youth unemployment at last Thursday's Job Creation, Investment and Growth Forum in Junction, put on by The Gleaner Company.
"In terms of youth unemployment, it is a situation that we have happening in our area. The closure of ALPART took 1,200 people out of the workforce," said Parchment, making reference to when the Russian-owned plant ceased operations in 2009.
"A lot of young people would have graduated from school, and would have looked to get jobs at ALPART, but, based on what is happening now, I am pleased with the level of work that is being done at ALPART to get the plant up and running again."
Parchment also pointed to two agricultural projects in the parish, one that is now up and running and another to come on stream soon. He also said the plan to establish a BPO facility in nearby Manchester should also emerge as a source of new jobs.
"In the last two years, an agro-park has been set up in the New Forest area. It has been going on so good that the Government has now identified some more money from the Inter-American Development Bank and they are going to put in an additional 200 acres in Spring Plain. They will put in the irrigation in that as well, and that will be on lease primarily for young farmers," said Parchment.
"Just this week, the 4-H Club asked me to identify six young farmers that they are going to set up with a grant of about $200,000 to go into peanut farming," continued Parchment. " They (the 4-H Club) will provide the land and also a market for the product. We are putting in a new BPO training facility at the HEART training institute in Junction, because Sutherland Global (an international BPO company) is opening a facility in Mandeville that is going to employ 600 young people, at the start, to do the BPO operations, with a view to expanding."
And, in a bid to ensure that the youngsters of Junction are in a state of readiness to grasp whatever employment opportunities might come to the fore, Alrick Miller, the Social Development Commission parish manager for St Elizabeth, said his organisation has created a database from which members of the diaspora can see updates on local business initiatives and thereafter render assistance as needed.
"Networking and partnership building is very important, and, based on the local economic initiatives, we have created an electronic database where we put up the stories so individuals in the diaspora and locally can review these initiatives. If the individuals need to leverage support, they can access it," said Miller.