Transport, Works & Housing Minister Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies addressed the Katalyxt Development Conference at the Pegasus Hotel on Thursday, May 15, 2014 speaking to the issue of ‘Entrepreneurial Opportunities Emanating from the Logistics Hub’.
Dr. Davies started his presentation by giving a working definition of a Logistics Hub. To this end, he said that a Logistics Hub is aimed at clustering global logistics firms, along with their supplies in special economic zones. Continuing, he said, “In Jamaica’s case, the idea is that goods produced in these zones will be transported to global markets, using Jamaica’s transportation infrastructure.”
“global trends,” he said, “point to noticeable shifts in trading patterns and relationships. Ports are evolving from being simply gateways to international trade, to becoming an integral element in the global supply chain and logistics industries.”
The Minister noted that Jamaica’s viability as a Logistics Hub was predicated on the following elements:
· The emerging patterns of global trade, with the growing importance of services to US East Coast markets and the expansion of the Panama Canal
· Our proximity to large markets such as North America
· Our natural assets, possessing the 7th largest natural harbour, and some of the deepest harbours in this hemisphere.
· Our extensive and growing telecommunications infrastructure
· The improving road infrastructure, opening up previously isolated areas for development and
· The pool of relatively low cost skilled and semi-skilled workers.
In terms of entrepreneurial opportunities, the Minister explained that when global companies establish branches of their operations in Jamaica, it will create direct and indirect employment opportunities. The establishment of these operations will lead to entrepreneurs capitalizing on the provision of supporting services. According to the Minister, the essence of the Logistics Hub is to stimulate growth through multiplier effects and linkages. As currently envisaged, there is a role for everyone – the foreign investors, the local investors, the Small and Micro Enterprise Sector, professionals through the provision of services, such as legal and accounting as well as other skilled and semi-skilled workers, the Minister stressed.
Dr. Davies however, sounded a warning to prospective employees that they will need to be better trained and equipped to participate in a meaningful way in the new jobs that will become available. He said that relevant skills training, whether it is in the area of logistics, auto mechanics, engineering, information technology should become the major focus of prospective employees.
In this respect Minister Davies outlined the role the Caribbean Maritime Institute will play in the provision of training. He noted too that the CMI is soon to become the Caribbean Maritime University.