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CMI bursting at the seams as public embraces logistics hub concept

Published:Tuesday | September 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM
A cadet learns how to navigate a ship using one of the simulators at the Caribbean Maritime Institute.
Students currently enrolled in the master of science degree in logistics and supply chain management course during their trip to Panama.

The Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) is reporting that it is now oversubscribed for all its programmes, especially its master and bachelor of science degree programmes in logistics and supply chain management.

According to the CMI, students enrolled in these programmes could only be accommodated with the creation of three additional streams and rental of additional classrooms. This increase in enrolment is a direct result of the interest generated in the logistics hub concept. Both secondary and tertiary graduates have become more aware of the opportunities to be had in a more logistics-centred country, and have sought to equip themselves with the requisite skills to be eligible for the myriad jobs that will emerge.

Dr Ibrahim Ajagunna, CMI's director of academics, said, "CMI programmes are the most relevant in terms of student placement. This relevance has seen graduate students from the University of the West Indies, the University of Technology and Northern Caribbean University, among others, now enrolling in CMI undergraduate and graduate programmes."

Having recognised this trend and the need to prepare the workforce, several tertiary institutions have adjusted their curricula to include logistics-related courses and have partnered with CMI to do so.


According to Gordon Foote, general manager of IBM Jamaica, who is currently pursuing the masters in logistics and supply chain management programme at CMI, "The logistics hub presents a fantastic opportunity for economic development to the benefit of this and future generations, and I feel the need to prepare myself to take advantage of the opportunities and contribute in some way to the success of the hub."

His classmate, Joan Andrea Hutchinson, communications consultant and public speaking coach, shares this sentiment and adds that, "The only constant is change, and individually and collectively we must equip ourselves to manage and maximise that change".

In the initial phases, where some of the skills do not exist locally, some of the jobs will be filled from the global pool of human resources, including diaspora-based Jamaicans. With the transfer of knowledge, eventually most of these jobs will be filled by Jamaicans. This has been the experience in Panama, where the top positions at the Manzanillo International Terminal, which were initially filled by foreigners, are now filled by Panamanians.

One of the existing global logistics hubs, Dubai, in its initial stages had to import over 70 per cent of its labour as the skills sets to efficiently operate the hub were not in place. It is important that Jamaica trains and equips its workforce to assume the thousands of jobs which will be spawned by the logistics hub.

Some of these jobs will be in new and emerging categories, some of which have not yet been envisioned, but, ultimately, the logistics-centred economy which we seek to create will require a skilled labour force, and maritime and logistics-based courses provide the requisite tools.