Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Artificial intelligence posing a threat to BPO jobs – Wheatley

Published:Friday | June 23, 2017 | 6:37 PM

Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley says the increasing use of artificial intelligence poses a threat to jobs in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.

The BPO sector is one of the areas identified by government as having the highest potential for generating job opportunities for the island's unemployed youth population.

About 22,000 people are employed in the BPO sector now, but the Government wants that figure to reach 200,000 in four years.

Speaking at a symposium organised by the Jamaica Computer Society at the regional headquarters of the University of the West Indies recently, Dr Wheatley said more countries and industries are turning to artificial intelligence to fill job functions normally carried out by people, such as answering calls and certain problem-solving functions.

However, he says this presents an opportunity for Jamaica to train people to fill demand for high-skilled job functions in areas such as programming and software development.

The technology minister says there is strong demand for high-skilled programmers in countries like Germany, Japan, China and the United Kingdom.

Wheatley says Jamaica must position itself to become creators of technological products and solutions rather than just consumers.

Towards this end he says his ministry has initiated discussions with stakeholders to position Jamaica to benefit from the use of artificial intelligence.