Today, as CARICOM Heads of Government meet to deliberate in Castries, trying to extricate their nations from the crosshairs of the deepest recession since the Community’s 1973 formation by the Treaty of Chaguaramas, the old clock is ticking still but with concern for its future: the digital clock is patiently waiting its turn in the hands of the Caribbean youth.
A staggering 86% of the Caribbean population is under 30 years old. This population is connected to the global social and knowledge society and skilled on digital work. However, the region has yet to fully embrace a digital economy and society model in which the youth could be the disruptive and innovation force. As result, with every batch of school graduates or dropouts who enter the labor market, youth unemployment continues to escalate as most of them are not longer interested in agriculture and natural resource extraction but in working with ICT and in a global interconnected environment. This mismatch is putting the chances for sustained economic growth in the region at risk.
In spite of many efforts in the past to train and increase the skill levels of young people in the Caribbean, it is clear that more attention must be paid to ensure that their talents on working with ICT and with the global economic hubs are capitalized on, particularly by establishing links within regional and international labor markets. The youth could support the transition of Caribbean economies to competitive economies in the global markets.
This imperative led Jamaica’s Ministry of Youth and Culture, the World Bank, private local and international corporations and other partners, to launch Digital Jam 2.0 as the innovation event for the youth and by the youth. The vision of this new venture is to connect young citizens with global labor markets through opportunities provided by the global virtual economy. Powered by the energy, technical know-how and vision of the Caribbean youth, the Digital Jam 2.0 wants to craft a new reality not just in Jamaica, but within the ‘seamless economic space’ envisioned by CARIMAC through the CSME.