Fri | Apr 19, 2019

Mitchell: Low-wage trap, outdated skills holding back Ja

Published:Tuesday | February 12, 2019 | 12:21 AM
Howard Mitchell, president of the PSOJ.

Jamaica’s dependence on traditional and failed methodologies to support growth and development have placed the country at a disadvantage and that needs to be addressed by the country’s leaders, says Howard Mitchell, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).

Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club of Kingston last Thursday, Mitchell said that the country runs the risk of being left in the blocks as other countries get on board the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution train.

“While developed countries such as the United States and Britain are seemingly struggling to keep pace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution driven by artificial intelligence, digital technology and biological advances, so-called Third World nations like Jamaica are caught in a low-wage trap with skills unsuitable for the 21st century,” Mitchell said.

He further pointed out that Jamaica continues to ignore ingenious resources such as the creative urges and expressions of the marginalised masses.

“It is out of these marginalised masses that we have created our music and our art, and the exotic flavour profiles of our own agricultural products, which, if properly exploited, can give us real high-margin export earnings,” the business leader said.

Mitchell noted also that for Jamaica to become a more developed and sophisticated society, it will also mean fixing the educational system, which has been failing students.

“Nearly 70 per cent of the nation’s students are failing mathematics in their school-leaving exams. In addition, English is still a second language for so many of our university graduates.

“There is hope, however. We are a tremendously resilient people. We are a people with a tremendous ability to adapt and change. So there is hope, but we have to act now and get it right the first time,” Mitchell said.

Issues having to deal with national security, crime and violence, and corruption must be tackled as a matter of urgency, according to the PSOJ president, if Jamaica is to develop at a pace that keeps it within touching distance of its more developed counterparts.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com