He gets to work early in the morning, signs in, heads to his cubicle, sits down and waits for the phone to ring. Finally, the phone rings and he answers, “Good day, you’ve reached… How may I help you?” He goes on to help the caller and moments later he ends, “Thank you for calling…have a good day.” This routine is that of Jevorn Daley, employee at Southerland Global Services located on the Mona campus of the University of West Indies in Kingston. This is a routine that is familiar to many persons who work at an Information and Communication Technology (ICT)/ Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) centre in Jamaica.
ICT is similar to Information Technology (IT), but it focuses primarily on communication technologies and chiefly refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications, while Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is the contracting of a specific business task, such as payroll, to a third-party service provider. In Jamaica, when people refer to ICT, they are usually referring to a Business Process Outsourcing company that uses ICT to carry out their various tasks.
There are several such centres in Jamaica and currently there is one being constructed on Ward Avenue in Mandeville, Manchester and it is said that this will help to not only boost the Mandeville economy by creating employment, but also will help to stimulate growth in the Jamaican ICT/BPO sector.
These centres are found mostly in areas such as Kingston and the Freezone of Montego Bay.They have benefited from the establishment of these centres by creating job opportunities for locals and by creating an environment where ICT based businesses can flourish. This environment helps to attract foreign investment to the local ICT sector, since many of the businesses that utilize ICT services in Jamaica are based overseas. Consequently, this helps the sector to earn large amounts of foreign exchange for the local economy. Montego Bay alone has several ICT centres set up in the Freezone area and currently they employ in excess of 1000 individuals.
That level of employment and more is expected for Mandeville when the ICT centre is complete. Member of Parliament for central Manchester, Peter Bunting says he expects that “hundreds if not thousands” to be employed at the centre when the project is complete. The centre could also provide part time employment for students of tertiary institutions that are located in or close to Mandeville as seen on UWI Mona campus, especially in light of the fact that Sutherland Global Services are the fore runners for start-up of the ICT business at the new centre.
Dr Michael Reid, Vice President of Technology at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) believes that the establishment of this ICT centre would spur growth in the use of information and communication technologies. He said, “When you look at the landscape in Mandeville, there isn’t much happening in ICT. There is only NCU.” Because there is little to no ICT development in Mandeville, he believes that the ICT centre will help promote ICT jobs and training. He also said that this would boost the Mandeville economy and further encourage ICT development not only in Jamaica, but also in the region.
Resident of Manchester, Fiona Worgs, said that the establishment of this centre is very encouraging because of the jobs that it will create. She thinks that this will create opportunities, especially for individuals who are currently unemployed. Worgs said, “I think the centre is a good thing because…it can create jobs for people who is not working”. She also expressed that her son, who is 18, is also in need of a job and so he may be able to be employed at the centre.
Since residents of Mandeville are being made aware of the construction of this centre, many of them who are currently unemployed may be thinking about applying for jobs there. Yanikie Mahoney, who recently graduated from the National College of Professional Studies with a certificate in health care assistance, said that she has not been able to get a job in her field. She said, “Since I left school I haven’t been able to work so I think I may be able to get a job at the new place they are building.”
The establishment of the ICT centre is hoped to provide hundreds of jobs for the people of Mandeville. If what is happening, particularly in Montego Bay, is any indication of what will happen in Mandeville, then the people of Mandeville can expect increased employment opportunities and economic growth in the years to come.