Animation's huge potential and the World Bank's generosity
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites' revelation that all 17 students who sat the newly introduced Digital Media course in the 2014 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) received passing grades is, indeed, encouraging.
For it represents another step in Jamaica's venture into an industry that has huge earning potential.
We have been told that the global animation industry earns an estimated US$220 billion annually, and the World Bank believes that, here in Jamaica, the industry can grow to US$69 million in value in five years.
In a recently released project document titled 'Youth Employment in the Digital and Animation Industries' the World Bank said that, based on the interest expressed recently by global companies and the demands of the industry, there is good reason to believe that, with the right talent, these numbers are achievable.
Added the bank: "In other words, an investment of just a few million dollars focused on training as well as on showcasing Jamaica's animation industry globally can be expected to pave the way for the country to absorb tens of millions of dollars in foreign exchange."
With that in mind, the bank is investing US$20 million over five years in the project, which is expected to benefit 15,000 youth directly and indirectly.
Under the project, the World Bank intends to invest US$10 million towards training animators, developing infrastructure, and accrediting institutions, while US$5.6 million will fund a tech incubator named Startup Jamaica. An additional US$1.6 million will support early-stage investments in the start-ups.
The Jamaican Government will have nearly 30 years to repay the loan, which offers a five-and-a-half-year grace period.
The project, as we understand it, falls under the US$120-million Country Partnership Strategy between the World Bank and Jamaica, which runs until 2018.
It offers the kind of assistance in human development and opportunity for foreign exchange revenue that the country desperately needs at this time.
As such, we expect that the Government and the people of Jamaica will embrace this project, because it demonstrates the World Bank's recognition of the aptitude shown by our youth, in particular to this industry.
We should also use this project as a springboard to prepare our youth population for entry into other non-traditional industries, guided, of course, by global demand for skills. For, as it now stands, the traditional professions are supersaturated with personnel, many of whom are unable to find jobs.
The World Bank deserves our thanks for its assistance in seeking to grow this industry in Jamaica.
Ours is now the task to make the best of that assistance.