Fri | Jan 21, 2022

Growth & Jobs | New technology blunting garment sector revival – Terrelonge

Published:Tuesday | February 25, 2020 | 12:08 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Terrelonge
Terrelonge

WESTERN BUREAU:

Alando Terrelonge, state minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, believes that the growing use of new technologies in the teaching of needed skills to students is hurting the bid to revive the local garment industry.

“We are at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technology continues to change every single day. And so, gone are the days of the garment industry; and we have now beckoned the new era where technology and vocational skills have become the cornerstone of developing modern societies,” said Terrelonge, who was addressing Thursday’s opening ceremony of the HEART Trust/National Service Training Agency’s Trust (HEART Trust/NSTA) Professional Development Symposium in Montego Bay. “It stands to reason, therefore, that you are the cornerstone of our modern economy, of that new Jamaica that we’ve started to create. Without you in this room, we would not have been able to train more than 100,000 Jamaicans in the requisite vocational and technical skills that every society so badly needs,” added Terrelonge. The state minister’s comments are in line with Jamaica’s increasing ventures into the digital and creative industries, including virtual reality, digital art and animation, and development of related technologies. However, this calls into question projections about the potential resurgence of the apparel industry, particularly following the enrolment of 100 youth to pursue garment construction at the HEART Trust/NSTA, then known as the Heart Trust/NTA, in August 2017. Between the 1990s and early 2000, over 20,000 garment sector jobs were lost across Jamaica when local garment factories began to fold. Approximately seven garment factories were operating in the Montego Bay Free Zone at the time, including three operated by the Hart Group of Companies. Terrelonge also told the instructors that creating new methods to develop young people’s skills is crucial for an evolving society. “As we create an innovative society, it’s important that we find new and innovative ways to develop the skill sets of our youth. You instill in them those technical skills they will need, and you make them truly shine,” said Terrelonge.

Over the past decade, various attempts have been made to revive the local garment industry, but as Terrelonge stated, the effort has fallen prey to the emergence of new technology.