Digital Jam 2.0: Offering Real Hope for Jobs in Virtual Spaces
June 27, 2012
- Jamaica is strategically positioned in close proximity to the powerhouses of North America and the emerging ones in the South.
- The use of ICT also fosters greater social inclusion, enabling youth participation within the labor market.
- Digital Jam 2.0 is a unique collaborative event seeking to bring together the collective energies of Jamaican youth.
Tapping into Jamaica’s growing appetite for all things online, a new initiative hopes to tackle the country’s rising unemployment by connecting virtual job seekers with opportunities in the real world.
Digital Jam 2.0 is a unique collaborative event seeking to bring together the collective energies of Jamaican youth in a partnership with the country’s Ministry of Youth & Culture, the World Bank, as well as private local and international corporations, academia, civil society and development partners. Together they’ll address the pressing issues of youth unemployment and entrepreneurship.
In Jamaica, young citizens have borne the brunt of the country's weak performance in job creation and have been disproportionately affected. With youth unemployment at 31.1 percent, it’s almost three times the national rate and grows faster with every batch of school graduates or dropouts who enter the labor market. Today, there are over 800,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 35 in Jamaica – roughly 25% of them or 200,000 are neither in school nor gainfully employed.
In spite of many efforts in the past to train and increase the skill levels of young Jamaicans, it’s clear that more attention must be paid to ensure that their talents are capitalized on, particularly by establishing links within the labor markets (nationally, regionally and internationally).
According to Country Director for the Caribbean Françoise Clottes, in the midst of dismal socio-economic realities, this lifeline is imperative.
This could very well be a part of the antidote to Jamaica’s four decade-long economic stagnation.
“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.