Sun | Aug 1, 2021

MIIC knocks ‘weak’ report from GSS Project consultant

Published:Friday | March 26, 2021 | 12:14 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter

The disaster readiness component of Jamaica’s Global Services Sector Project, or GSS Project, which is intended to allow for quick responses to events like COVID-19, has been slowed, due to a “weak” report from a consultant. The consultant was not...

The disaster readiness component of Jamaica’s Global Services Sector Project, or GSS Project, which is intended to allow for quick responses to events like COVID-19, has been slowed, due to a “weak” report from a consultant.

The consultant was not identified by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, MIIC. The person or firm has been instructed to improve the submission, according to ministry documents.

The five-year project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank aims to provide Jamaicans with access to training and better jobs in the global services sector, which incorporates business process outsourcing or BPO, information technology outsourcing and knowledge process outsourcing industries. The agreement for the $128-million programme between Government of Jamaica and the IDB was signed on January 24, 2019.

A report from the MIIC has shown that only 500 Jamaicans, which is half of the targeted group, completed the training under the job readiness and digital skills curriculum as at end-December 2020.

Additionally, the third-quarter deliverables, dating from October 2020, included an assessment of industry readiness and preparedness to address disaster and disaster outbreaks, but lacklustre submissions from the consultant hired to deal with disaster outbreaks within the sector has pushed that aspect of the project off course, the report said.

“Weak submissions by the consultant have resulted in revisions being required and a delay in the review and approval process,” said MIIC.

Meetings have been held with the consultant to reinforce expectations of their deliverables, it said.

The GSS Project, which Jampro has been assigned to execute, is contracted to several consultants who are responsible for implementing various activities – elements of which include developing industry skills and upgrading strategies; acquiring and implementing a talent platform; acquiring and implementing a Competitive Fund portal; conducting a gender imbalance diagnosis; an updated digital skills curricula and developing and piloting a training plan for the curricula over the life of the project.

The job to assess industry readiness and preparedness to address disasters and outbreaks was added to the project after the COVID-19 outbreak at a Portmore, St Catherine-based BPO facility last April.

The outbreak resulted in a 14-day shutdown for call centre operations and not long after the lockdown of the parish of St Catherine.

GSS Programme Director Majorie Straw said Tuesday that the issue identified by the ministry would not slow the overall project.

“From time to time in the world of project management you will get something that does not quite match the expectation that one had,” she said, “but it should in no way be construed as the project itself is not doing well, or is paused or delayed in form because the GSS project is quite active and doing well.”

So far, a total of $60 million or 47 per cent of the allocated budget has been spent on the project, which is slated to end in fiscal year 2023-24.

The GSS Project’s broad goal is the strengthening of Jamaica’s capacity to increase foreign direct investment and promote exports in higher value-added segments, which is expected to be realised in phase two.

The second phase will see the roll-out of incubator and accelerator programmes for MSMEs operating in the GSS arena, digital management system and a framework for the optimisation of processes, institutions, regulations and incentives with the sector.

The two main training opportunities under the GSS Project are the short-term certification courses and the apprenticeship programme.

GSS short-term certificates, which range from two weeks to six months, allow firms to reskill or upskill their employees, which ultimately allows the company to respond quickly to clients while remaining competitive in the growing industry.

The certificate course is targeted at investors looking to set up a BPO operation in Jamaica and requires training for recruits. Half of the cost is matched by the GSS Project or payment of US$300 is made through the Competitive Fund portal for the training of employees.

The programme is supported by the HEART/NSTA Trust and the Global Services Association of Jamaica.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com