We need a Fifth Industrial Revolution renaissance

We need a Fifth Industrial Revolution renaissance

Friday, October 02, 2020

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In 1955 the Government, led by Chief Minister Norman Manley, created the Central Planning Unit (CPU), which reported directly to the Office of the Chief Minister. The role of the CPU, now renamed the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), was to collate and analyse available economic data to help advise the Government. During Norman's tenure as premier (1957-1962) the CPU crafted the first National Plan (1957–1967) using data from the Department of Statistics, the Industrial Development Corporation, the Economics Division of the Ministry of Finance, and the Economics Division of the Ministry of Agriculture.

A New York Times article, 'Jamaica pushes industrialisation aims' (January 17, 1964), reported that the Government was “continuing the transformation of its economy from an agricultural operation to a more flexible pattern with more concentration on industrial development”. It further stated that this was “a part of the long-term development plan” adopted by Parliament that “postulates an overall growth rate of five per cent, with a growth rate of disposable income of 2.7 per cent”.

A political fact that we can accept from the newspaper article is that our founding political fathers (Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante) accepted the role of the CPU in transforming Jamaica from an agricultural to an industrial-based economy, which was among the economic goals implemented in its 10-year plan crafted in 1957.

Since the mid-1970s the quest for political power trumped Jamaica's continued industrialisation along with successful social reforms by the then Government, as our two major political parties evolved into the “gangs at Gordon House”.

Fast-track to 2020, our prime minister, Andrew Holness, in seeking to steer the nation on the path of industrialisation, spoke about embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, according to a 2019 World Economic Forum article, 'What the Fifth Industrial Revolution is and why it matters', the world since 2019 has been edging towards the Fifth Industrial Revolution.

It means that we, as a nation, need to revisit the delivery of education beginning with the early childhood level and at the primary levels where our children can think critically in the digital environment. According to The Future of Jobs Report 2016, 65 per cent of children entering education today will end up in careers that don't yet exist, and much of this will be attributable to the rapid advancements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This raises additional questions in regard to the pedagogical medium and content at the nation's teacher training institutions, whereby our teachers are able to embrace a world informed by technological pedagogies of the Fifth Industrial Revolution.

The Ministry of Education, along with the PIOJ and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Development, now needs to work on crafting a long-term plan to secure our nation's transformation along with financial incentives to encourage creative inventions for use in development and production.

Our local newspapers should include a section reporting innovative technological ideas from our people, along with reports from the nation's universities and other educational institutions, as well as the Scientific Research Council, to stimulate an environment of innovation and creativity.

Jamaica now needs to initiate its Fifth Industrial Revolution renaissance by walking the walk with our local innovators that began with the vision of premier Norman Manley.


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