“It is extremely important that Jamaican youngsters understand that where they have talent, passion, motivation and capacity, there is an avenue for livelihood. Young people have an almost biological predisposition to be hopeful, and with good reason – it is hope that fires revolutions in the midst of despair,” she explains.
Digital Jam 2.0 provides a realistic hope of harnessing employment and entrepreneurship development opportunities emerging from the global virtual economy, an area still largely unexplored within the Caribbean.
“This could very well be a part of the antidote to Jamaica’s four decade-long economic stagnation. In spite of the profusion of training and skills building, firm linkages with national, regional and global labor markets have been lacking. The virtual economy presents the perfect platform to reverse this,” Clottes notes.
Low levels of productivity and the resulting lack of competitiveness in the traditional sectors (mining, agriculture, tourism etc.) compared with other countries, have long stymied the island’s progress. But high-energy prices, unreliable transportation and uncompetitive labor costs are all nemeses, which can be bypassed by international e-commerce.
With a solid IT infrastructure already in place, Jamaica is strategically positioned in close proximity to the powerhouses of North America and the emerging ones in the South. English speaking, with a highly favorable time zone and location, the country is well placed to capitalize on the innate and unmatched creativity within its youth, and take advantage of new opportunities in the global virtual economy.
ICTs can have a double impact on young people, both directly through new employment opportunities, and indirectly as an “enabler of development”. The use of ICT also fosters greater social inclusion, enabling youth participation within the labor market as well as in other public spheres.
Digital Jam 2.0 is expected to:
· Create a place for corporate partnerships across national borders.
· Leverage resources to establish pilot projects to employ 1,000 -2,000 young people via robust web-based platforms.
· Develop world-class ICT quality of skills for unemployed/ underemployed youth.
· Link youth employment to broader regional initiatives, such as the Caribbean Growth Forum and the IDB’s Compete Caribbean through the use of ICT.
“We see Digital Jam 2.0 as neither the beginning nor the end, but one of the many critical and necessary steps in a move against stagnation towards growth and prosperity. It is a fact-based leap of faith on a journey of hope,” concludes Clottes.
While the proposed task environment is a virtual one, hope for accelerated development is palpable.
The Digital Jam 2.0 is part of the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF), a one-year initiative, recently launched by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), in close collaboration with the United Kingdom’s Department For International Development (DFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The objective of the CGF is to inspire the sharing of knowledge and ideas on practical policies to stimulate sustainable and inclusive growth, and create jobs.